Jim Justice

Chris Jackson/The Register-HeraldJim Justice speaks about his intention to run for governor of West Virginia during a press conference Monday at the White Sulphur Springs Civic Center in White Sulphur Springs.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate landed a big nod Thursday with the announcement of his endorsement by the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA).

At a Charleston press conference with miners and UMWA officials in Charleston, President Cecil Roberts said the union will do all it can to help Justice make it to the governor’s mansion.

“We’re proud of our endorsement,” Roberts said. “We don’t just endorse someone, though. We knock on doors. We make phone calls. We do everything we can to get as many people as possible to vote for Jim Justice for governor.”

The crowd erupted into applause at the announcement. Roberts said it was a “no-brainer” to give Justice the endorsement.

“We have been facing bankruptcies all over the state and I don’t have to tell anyone that the coal industry has been hit hard in Appalachia,” Roberts said. “We respect what Jim has done for West Virginia, from The Greenbrier to the coal jobs that he’s created.”

Justice has never run from a union, Roberts added. It was that fact that really pushed Justice to the top, he said.

“You don’t see too many business owners who advocate for unions,” Roberts said. “Every time Jim has opened a mine, he went to the union first to see how he could make things work out for everyone. We need that type of thinking in our state leadership.”

Justice said it’s humbling to receive an endorsement from a great organization like the UMWA. He said it won’t make him overconfident in his abilities, though.

“When you get overconfident, you get your you-know-what beat and we don’t want to get beat,” Justice said with a laugh.

Justice said he won’t be beat because he’s a fighter.

“You need a fighter,” he said. “You’ve got to have someone who is not willing to settle for ‘good enough.’ You need someone who wants to work for you and with you.”

It was coal that made Justice who he is today, he said.

“I owe my life to coal and I’m not willing to walk away,” Justice said. “We’ve got a job to do and we’re going to do it. Coal is vital to this country. Coal isn’t bad. A miner should be proud of what they do. I know I am.

“Now we might have to think outside the box to come up with ways to get our miners back to work, but we’re going to do it. As long as God gives me breath, I will fight to get our miners back to work.”

— Email: cneff@register-herald.com; Follow on Twitter @RHCodyNeff

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