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For Immediate Release

The 38-year-old Smith filed his pre-candidacy paperwork in July, but it was unknown what he was running for. Then he made a splash at the end of November when he launched his campaign for governor of West Virginia as a Democrat.

Charleston, W.Va. — Today, Governor Justice announced that he would be running for re-election in 2020. Stephen Smith, Mr. Justice’s current Democratic challenger, released the following statement:

“Jim Justice knows that politics in West Virginia isn’t about left versus right, it’s about the people versus the good old boys club. He knows because he’s been a member of that club for decades. 

Before he was governor, Justice got rich off the labor of working people and the favors of politicians. Not much has changed since his election in 2016. 

What’s worse is that Justice now has an even bigger impact sitting in the Governor’s seat. He can–and does–leave over $148 million on the table for flood relief, money that families in his own county desperately need to re-build. He can–and does–continue the long, bipartisan tradition of raising costs for working people and small businesses, so that billionaires and out-of-state monopolies can get a little richer. 

Tonight in West Virginia, moms and dads will fall asleep trying to decide between paying for groceries or the electric bill. Small business owners and farmers will rack their brains about how to compete when their business model has been squeezed by giant retailers and conglomerates. Grandparents will stay up dreaming about how to keep their children and grandchildren here; that’s when they’re not wondering why they have to pay such high taxes on their pensions and social security, while their governor dodges his. Many of us will struggle to cope with another son or daughter or cousin lost to the drug epidemic, knowing the companies that got rich off this disaster aren’t paying a dime to fix it.

It doesn’t have to be this way. This is the richest time in West Virginia history, in terms of real GDP per capita. This should be our golden age. It can be. If the wealth that we make right here at home stayed in our roads and schools and wages–instead of lining the pockets of CEO’s and the politicians they own from both parties–we could transform our state. 

Justice’s campaign slogan is Hope Delivered. West Virginia delivers hope everyday, but not from the sitting Governor. First responders and pastors and social workers deliver hope every time they save a life from addiction. Workers and unions deliver hope every time they go on strike for fair pay and better conditions. Entrepreneurs deliver hope every time they open a business, knowing full well that their state government has stacked the odds against them. We are the state that’s at or near the top of the list in terms of military service, volunteer service, and charitable giving. We are the state that fought the Mine Wars and sparked a nationwide Teachers Strike. We know how to sacrifice for something greater than ourselves.

We don’t need four more years of government of, by, and for billionaires. The people of West Virginia are ready to govern. 

If you are one of the handful of rich West Virginians who benefits from having the old boys club in charge, Justice is your candidate. For the rest of us, we hope you will help us build a West Virginia that works for all of us – no matter your party, your county, your race, or your religion. 

I don’t have all the answers, but I know the people of West Virginia do. Join us. You can learn more about the campaign at www.wvcantwait.com.

For a full copy of Mr. Smith’s Campaign Launch speech from Saturday’s event in Matewan, contact Katey@wvcantwait.com

Organizing under Smith for West Virginia, the campaign also has another tagline: “WV Can’t Wait.” And waiting is something Smith isn’t doing.

Since Nov. 27 the campaign has held 12 meet-and-greets across the state.

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