CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) – West Virginia Republican Governor Jim Justice was sworn in for a second and final term on Friday.
In a 20-minute speech, Justice said that “West Virginia is really on the move,” despite the challenges posed by the pandemic and a population that has been falling for eight straight years. The highest elected officials in the state are all Republicans, and the GOP has moved many seats in the legislature to achieve a super-majority in both houses.
“You know, I really never thought I’d really run again,” said Justice, who first won the Democratic seat before switching sides. “But there is still more to be done.”
The judiciary did not set out a vision for his second term in his speech, held outside the state capitol, attended by senior officials and the congressional delegation. He recently said on a radio show that he was supporting the abolition of income tax to encourage investment in the state.
The judiciary said it was “a great achievement” and acknowledged that getting rid of the tax, which generates a significant portion of government revenue, “would be a difficult task.” But he said he would press for it with the conservative lawmaker.
“Getting rid of federal income tax is the most attractive of anything we can do from a sex appeal point of view,” Justice told WV Metro News this week.
The judiciary defeated Democrat Ben Salango in the November election. A red wave thanks to former President Donald Trump’s popularity in the state resulted in several angry victories, with Republicans ousting longtime Democrats in the House of Representatives and Senate.
After lawmakers met last week to choose the leaders in both houses, they will begin a 60-day session on February 10th.
Also sworn in were Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, Secretary of State Mac Warner, Agriculture Commissioner Kent Leonhardt, Treasurer Riley Moore, and Chartered Accountant JB McCuskey – all Republicans.
Evan Jenkins, Chief Justice of the West Virginia Supreme Court, also took the oath on behalf of Justices Tim Armstead, John Hutchison, and William Wooton.
Participants were socially distant and wore masks during the hour-long outdoor ceremony on the Capitol steps. High winds tipped over a US flagpole behind the lectern early on. US Republican Senator Shelley Moore Capito, who was sitting next to it in a grandstand, jumped up to catch her before the flag could touch the ground.
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