West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice easily won the Republican primary on Tuesday, making it likely he will be reelected in November in the red state.
Justice, a wealthy coal business owner, beat six other Republicans, leading with 66 percent of the vote after 8 percent of precincts had reported. He will face off against Democrat Ben Salango, the Kanawha County commissioner.
Salango had received 39 percent of the vote with 97 percent of precincts. He defeated two other Democrats.
The Democrat will face a steep uphill climb to pose a serious challenge to Justice in a state that President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Warren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases Esper orders ‘After Action Review’ of National Guard’s role in protests MORE won by over 40 points in 2016.
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Justice ran for governor in 2016 as a Democrat, winning with 49 percent of the vote. He switched parties during a rally for Trump in 2017.
The West Virginia governor is a strong supporter of Trump, who endorsed him on Sunday while taking a dig at Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinTrump administration seeks to use global aid for nuclear projects Shelley Moore Capito wins Senate primary West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice wins GOP gubernatorial primary MORE (D-W.Va.) for voting for impeachment earlier this year.
“Unlike Senator Manchin, Big Jim Justice was very loyal to your favorite President during Pelosi’s Impeachment Scam. Big Jim is doing a tremendous job for West Virginia. Vote for Big Jim!” Trump tweeted.
Justice has previously stirred controversy with his comments, including referring to a girls high school basketball team facing a team he coaches as “thugs.”
Justice apologized for his choice of words, but stood by his assertion that the opposing team and coaches acted improperly during a match between the two schools.