Justice campaign spends $5M in governor’s race
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia Gov.-elect Jim Justice spent $5.1 million in his mostly self-funded winning race as a Democrat, campaign finance reports show.
Justice, an owner of coal mines, the Greenbrier resort and other businesses, defeated Republican Bill Cole, who spent $2.8 million. Cole got another $3.7 million in support from the national Republican Governors’ Association buying television ads. The group’s Right Direction PAC ads promoting Cole and attacking Justice began in April.
“The 2016 election wasn’t about campaign spending,” Justice spokesman Grant Herring said. “The people of West Virginia were ready for a non-politician with big ideas.”
Cole didn’t immediately respond to a request Tuesday.
The records show Justice, in his first race for statewide office, received $1.6 million from donors while personally lending his campaign $3.8 million. Another $72,000 in expenses was attributed to the Greenbrier, where Justice hosted an election-night celebration.
Cole’s campaign records show the Senate president and owner of car dealerships received $2.3 million in donations and loaned his effort $625,000.
Both made final loans in the last week of the race while continuing to spend on television ads.
Cole will leave his influential Senate post in the Republican-controlled legislature in January. He couldn’t run for both governor and re-election to the Senate. He had held the Mercer County seat for four years.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch Carmichael, a Republican from Ripley who was re-elected in November, has been chosen by the Senate’s GOP caucus to replace Cole as the chamber’s next presiding officer and lieutenant governor. His formal selection by the Senate is scheduled for Jan. 11. The Legislature will reconvene for its annual 60-day session in early February.
In the attorney general’s race, Republican incumbent Patrick Morrisey’s campaign reported raising $1.2 million from contributors. Morrisey loaned his effort $528,000, with more than half of that in the last two weeks of the race.
Democrat Doug Reynolds, an attorney and former state delegate, reported receiving $2.8 million in contributions and loaning his campaign $1.5 million.
Both bought ads in the last week of the race, which Morrisey won.
Morrissey’s campaign was boosted by the national Republican Attorneys General Association. Its Mountaineers Are Always Free PAC outspent either candidate, buying almost $6.8 million in ads promoting Morrisey and attacking Reynolds.