Jim Justice, the billionaire coal mining executive, has announced that he intends to stand for the Democratic nomination for governor of West Virginia.
Justice is the owner of the famous Greenbrier luxury resort in West Virginia and while he may sound like the perfect Republican candidate, he will be standing instead for the Democrats after it was found that he changed his party support from Republican to Democrat earlier this year.
According to a report by Reuters Jim Justice will be looking for the backing of the Democrats for his first run at public office and has also stated that if he is to be successful in his bid, he intends to take a salary of only one dollar per year for his work if he is elected as Governor.
Justice becomes the second Democrat to officially launch a campaign to succeed incumbent Democratic Governor Earl Ray Tomblin.
Tomblin is barred by term limits from seeking re-election in 2016 and while Justice is keen to secure this seat, he will be running against Senator Jeff Kessler who is also looking to become governor and any potential Republican candidates who choose to run, although as yet no Republican candidates have shown their intentions.
In a media release issued just before his official announcement in White Sulphur Springs, Justice took credit for creating or saving thousands of jobs in West Virginia’s energy sector according to Reuters.
“Justice supports an all-of-the-above energy approach which promotes growth in coal, natural gas and wind energy to create jobs and prepare West Virginia for the future,” it said.
It is believed that Jim Justice is the only billionaire in West Virginia and his knowledge of the coal industry is great thanks to his family building up their enormous fortune through their coal business.
While coal may have been the founding of the Justice fortune, he is perhaps more well known in the state for buying up the Greenbrier resort and working to pull it out of bankruptcy in 2009 to restore it to its former glory as a luxury resort.
Justice is likely to have had considerable access to influential members of the government over the years thanks to Greenbrier being the resort of choice for celebrities, US Presidents and even national sporting stars.
Justice does not have a totally unblemished record in business, despite his obvious success. Only last year the Louisville Courier-Journal newspaper in neighbouring Kentucky reported that mines owned by Justice had been cited for hundreds of violations of strip-mining reclamation regulations, according to Reuters.