In an otherwise boring day, Trump sparked some excitement earlier today when he announced that he will make a "very big announcement" during a planned rally in West Virginia tonight. Moments ago, the NYT spoiled the surprise when it unveiled what the announcement is: West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, a Democrat who was elected last year even as President Trump carried the state by 42 points, is expected to announce Thursday night at a rally with Mr. Trump that he is changing parties.
Justice, a billionaire coal and real estate magnate, ran as a conservative Democrat and declined to endorse Hillary Clinton in 2016. But even as West Virginia has become a reliable Republican state in presidential elections and further down the ballot, a handful of Democrats have still been able to win office. At least for one of them, that ends tonight.
According to the NYT, Justice is said to have friendly relationships with some members of Trump’s family and before entering politics he gave money to officeholders in both parties while variously registering as a Republican, Democrat and independent.
As Axios observes, "West Virginia is the epicenter of the Trump shift in American politics — a battleground that's tended historically Democratic, but with an aging, white, working-class population focused on issues like coal, gun rights, and social issues it is increasingly allied with Trump's version of the Republican Party"
Meanwhile, even when hoping the build tension - and attention - Trump is once again foiled by leaks.