LIVE RESULTS: West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice wins reelection against Ben Salango

Republican West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice has won reelection against Democratic challenger Ben Salango, Decision Desk HQ reported.

Polls in West Virginia closed at 7:30 p.m. ET.

The candidates:

Justice has been governor since 2017. A previously registered Republican, he ran as a Democrat, then switched back his party affiliation seven months after he took office.

The governor is the wealthiest person in the state with a net worth over $US1 billion. He’s a businessman who also inherited a coal-mining business from his father.

Justice, who touts his conservative beliefs, spotlighted his support of President Donald Trump to boost his reelection chances. He framed his campaign around building a stronger economy, education reform, and combating the drug-use crisis.

His Democratic opponent, Salango, is a county commissioner with a law background, who was running on the same issues.

Yet the two had sparred not about policy but their personal histories. Both went on the offence in a recent virtual debate. Justice slammed Salango as a trial lawyer who “sues people.” Salango criticised Justice for being sued dozens of times over unpaid business bills.

“He actually has more courtroom experience than I do,” Salango said, a local news outlet reported.

The stakes:

West Virginia has become a heavily Republican state in recent decades. Along with the governorship, the state Legislature is controlled by Republicans. The state also went to Trump in 2016.

As a result, the odds were in Justice’s favour. Justice also benefited from a relatively high approval rating in recent polls, indicating he may cruise to victory on Election Day.

The money race: The candidates were neck and neck in fundraising. Justice had raised roughly $US1.5 million for his reelection effort, while Salango slightly trails behind him with around $US1.4 million, according to the latest campaign-finance data.

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