Does the party switch by WV governor open the door for others?

West Virginia's Democratic governor, Jim Justice, announced at a rally featuring Donald Trump that he was switching his party registration to Republican because "the Democrats walked away from me."

The switch by Justice is an open invitation to other Democratic politicians to follow his lead and join the GOP.

Washington Examiner:

Justice, a billionaire coal and real estate tycoon, positioned himself as an ally of Trump who inspired him to switch parties.

"I can tell you, this man and myself are not politicians," Justice said, after being introduced on stage by Trump at the rally in Huntington, W.V. "We ran to get something done. We ran and gave up a part of our lives. We ran because we want nothing."

Justice, one of the few remaining Democratic governors, was lightly booed upon entering the stage, but cheered after announcing his party switch.

"Today I tell you I can't help you anymore being a Democratic governor," Justice said. "Tomorrow, I will be changing my registration to Republican."

Justice said he's met with Trump twice in the Oval Office since he became president. The president described Justice as a friend.

"Having Big Jim as a Republican is such an honor," Trump said. "He showed the country that our agenda rises above Left or Right."

Trump won West Virginia with 65% of the vote, so Justice's gubernatorial victory was surprising.  But the Democrats' ruinous coal policies have just about destroyed the party in West Virginia, and their radical social agenda hasn't helped, either.

What other Democrats might follow Justice's lead?  There has been speculation for years that West Virginia's Senator Joe Manchin might be more comfortable on the other side of the aisle.  But Democrats have given Manchin some plum committee assignments, including Armed Services and Energy and Natural Resources.  His statement on Justice's switch scotched any rumors that he may also be considering a move to the GOP:

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., who is up for re-election in 2018, said he is "disappointed" by Justice's decision.

"I have been and always will be a proud West Virginia Democrat," Manchin said in a statement. "I am disappointed by Governor Justice's decision to switch parties. While I do not agree with his decision, I have always said that I will work with anyone, no matter their political affiliation, to do what is best for the people of West Virginia."

Manchin is very popular in a state that is solidly Republican in national races but split fairly evenly in statewide and local contests.  Old habits die hard, and West Virginia used to be a crucial hold for national Democrats seeking to win the presidency. 

The national Democratic Party has purged almost all of its more moderate elements in the South and Midwest and is mostly left with radicals who get elected in liberal enclaves like Madison, Wis. and Austin, Texas.  Few if any of the remaining Democrats in these regions would contemplate switching parties.  Not only would they be too liberal for most Republicans, but a backlash against their switching parties would be difficult to overcome.

There are 12 Democratic House members who hold seats in districts won by Trump in 2016.  If there are any other switchers from Democrats to Republicans, they are likely to come from that group.  Many of them barely survived in 2016 and might be defeated anyway in 2018.

Justice's flip may be an extremely rare event as the parties become more and more polarized.

West Virginia's Democratic governor, Jim Justice, announced at a rally featuring Donald Trump that he was switching his party registration to Republican because "the Democrats walked away from me."

The switch by Justice is an open invitation to other Democratic politicians to follow his lead and join the GOP.

Washington Examiner:

Justice, a billionaire coal and real estate tycoon, positioned himself as an ally of Trump who inspired him to switch parties.

"I can tell you, this man and myself are not politicians," Justice said, after being introduced on stage by Trump at the rally in Huntington, W.V. "We ran to get something done. We ran and gave up a part of our lives. We ran because we want nothing."

Justice, one of the few remaining Democratic governors, was lightly booed upon entering the stage, but cheered after announcing his party switch.

"Today I tell you I can't help you anymore being a Democratic governor," Justice said. "Tomorrow, I will be changing my registration to Republican."

Justice said he's met with Trump twice in the Oval Office since he became president. The president described Justice as a friend.

"Having Big Jim as a Republican is such an honor," Trump said. "He showed the country that our agenda rises above Left or Right."

Trump won West Virginia with 65% of the vote, so Justice's gubernatorial victory was surprising.  But the Democrats' ruinous coal policies have just about destroyed the party in West Virginia, and their radical social agenda hasn't helped, either.

What other Democrats might follow Justice's lead?  There has been speculation for years that West Virginia's Senator Joe Manchin might be more comfortable on the other side of the aisle.  But Democrats have given Manchin some plum committee assignments, including Armed Services and Energy and Natural Resources.  His statement on Justice's switch scotched any rumors that he may also be considering a move to the GOP:

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., who is up for re-election in 2018, said he is "disappointed" by Justice's decision.

"I have been and always will be a proud West Virginia Democrat," Manchin said in a statement. "I am disappointed by Governor Justice's decision to switch parties. While I do not agree with his decision, I have always said that I will work with anyone, no matter their political affiliation, to do what is best for the people of West Virginia."

Manchin is very popular in a state that is solidly Republican in national races but split fairly evenly in statewide and local contests.  Old habits die hard, and West Virginia used to be a crucial hold for national Democrats seeking to win the presidency. 

The national Democratic Party has purged almost all of its more moderate elements in the South and Midwest and is mostly left with radicals who get elected in liberal enclaves like Madison, Wis. and Austin, Texas.  Few if any of the remaining Democrats in these regions would contemplate switching parties.  Not only would they be too liberal for most Republicans, but a backlash against their switching parties would be difficult to overcome.

There are 12 Democratic House members who hold seats in districts won by Trump in 2016.  If there are any other switchers from Democrats to Republicans, they are likely to come from that group.  Many of them barely survived in 2016 and might be defeated anyway in 2018.

Justice's flip may be an extremely rare event as the parties become more and more polarized.

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