West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice is switching parties to join Republicans as President Donald Trump plans a visit to the increasingly conservative state.
Justice’s plans were confirmed to The Associated Press on Thursday by a Democratic Party official with knowledge of his plans. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the decision before the announcement.
The governor is expected to publicly announce his decision Thursday evening at a campaign rally with the president.
Justice was elected in November with just 49 percent of the vote, 20 percentage points behind Trump’s total in the presidential contest in the state. Trump won 77 percent of West Virginia’s Republican primary voters in May.
Justice’s defection leaves Democrats with just 15 governors among 50 states.