Resort owner, coal mine owner, basketball coach — Jim Justice wears many hats. Lately, he's been deciding whether or not to throw one of them into the ring to run for governor.
Justice said Tuesday he's "very seriously considering" filing for the Democrat Party's nomination to replace Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, who cannot seek another term. Justice, who owns both The Greenbrier and the Resort at Glade Springs, said he still has to discuss it with his family, but has had numerous people ask him to make the run.
"I've thought about it a long time," he said. "Months and months."
While he said the decision will be made soon, because it needs to be, U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin's announcement Sunday that he will run for his Senate seat again instead of governor did have an impact, and he said he admires the work Manchin has done.
"I think Joe Manchin has done a great job for West Virginia," Justice said. "He's become a national leader; he can have a profound impact on our nation."
Along with being noted for his size — Justice towers well above 6 feet — the resorts and developing a PGA golf tournament, building a practice facility for the New Orleans Saints and a professional tennis venue, he is also a vocal proponent of West Virginia.
Justice said that he'd bring not only the love, but the experience in business to Charleston if he does decide to run.
"There may be somebody who loves West Virginia as much as I do, but there's nobody who loves it more," he said. "I bring a passion for the state and a track record of creating jobs."
Justice, who Forbes Magazine says is worth $1.69 billion, a fortune made from coal, said he didn't make the money and then leave the state.
"I stayed here because I love West Virginia," he said.
Justice said he understands that people already holding elected office are trying and working hard. Justice said he'd work hard in the office, too.
"But somebody needs to do anything and everything they can to get our people back to work," he said. That includes, but is not limited to, coal jobs, he said. "It all starts with a job."
Justice said he feels there are a lot checkmarks on the pro-run side of his decision, but understands that in the political arena, there are also a lot of negatives.
"There's always mud-throwing for any candidate," he said. "The people of West Virginia are worth the pain you'd go through.
"I've not been a politician before. I'd not be doing it for the pay or the status. I'd be doing it for all the right reasons."
He said voters are intelligent enough to figure out which candidates they want to see in office.
If he doesn't run for the state's executive office, Justice said he'd back the Democratic candidate in the race, whoever that might be.
Right now, only Senate Minority Leader Jeff Kessler, D-Marshall, has said he's in the race; however, U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin's name has been floated as a possible candidate as well, and he was one of three potential candidates, including Manchin, named in a poll last week.
Republican candidates mentioned in that same poll include U.S. Rep. David McKinley, Senate President Bill Cole and Attorney General Patrick Morissey.
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