The Democrats have managed to lose another governorship without the need for an election. Tonight, Gov. #Jim Justice of #West Virginia is expected to appear at a rally with President Trump, where he will switch political parties from Democrat to Republican. West Virginia has trended Republican in recent elections and Trump carried the state by 42 points in November. Former President Obama and Democrats, in general, became highly unpopular in West Virginia after the Obama administration introduced a barrage of new regulations that crippled the coal industry and cost the state jobs.

Trump expected to tout Republican gain

For his part, Trump, at a rally in Huntington, W.V., told supporters that he would have “a very big announcement” that Appalachians would support.

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Democrats, who up until recently ran the state, have seen their political fortunes tumble in West Virginia even though a handful of Democrats still cling to power.

Move isolates Sen. Manchin

Gov. Justice, who made a fortune in the coal and real estate industries, ran his gubernatorial campaign as a conservative Democrat. Justice declined to endorse Hillary Clinton in 2016 as the state steadily if not quickly shifted its politics in favor of Republicans. The move would further isolate West Virginia’s lone Democratic Senator, Joe Manchin, who has only survived by maintaining a cozy relationship with Republicans in Washington. Republicans have previously encouraged Manchin to switch parties, and without a Democratic governor to support his 2018 reelection bid, Manchin has more reason than ever to follow the governor’s lead and ditch the Democratic Party.

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On the other hand, there is no indication that Manchin will switch parties anytime soon. “Joe Manchin has been and always will be a proud West Virginia Democrat,” said Jonathan Kott, Mr. Manchin’s communications director.

Rep. Evan Jenkins endorses switch

Meanwhile, Republican Representative Evan Jenkins, who is running for Manchin’s Senate seat, says he would support Governor Justice’s transition to the Republican Party. Jenkins himself switched from Democrat to Republican as the formerly blue state changed hue. Jenkins said he could not support a liberal agenda that was costing his constituents jobs and that he imagined the governor feels the same way.

Some say Democrats like Barack Obama put in place unnecessarily counterproductive and stringent regulations that pleased West Coast liberals and Democratic Party insiders at the expense of West Virginians. With a Republican governor in place, the state’s remaining Democrats, including Manchin, will need to find and hone a political message that will mend fences and open minds as well as coal mines in the state.