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VEXIT: Gov. Justice Taps Jerry Falwell, Jr. To Call On Va. Counties To Join W.Va.

Office of Gov. Jim Justice
Jerry Falwell, Jr. (pictured left) joins Gov. Jim Justice on Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020 to discuss a proposal for Virginia counties to leave the state and join West Virginia.

With the help of the son of a famous televangelist, Gov. Jim Justice plugged a proposal for counties in Virginia to join West Virginia. The pitch for secession is part of an ongoing effort in the West Virginia Legislature now dubbed “Vexit.”

Jerry Falwell, Jr. is a lawyer, Baptist, president of Liberty University and the son of televangelist Jerry Fallwell, Sr. He joined Gov. Jim Justice in Martinsburg Tuesday to announce their shared support of counties leaving Virginia for West Virginia. The two touted Gov. Justice’s ties to President Trump.

Falwell pointed to Virginia’s Gov. Ralph Northham and the Democratic-controlled General Assembly proposing gun control legislation as a reason for these invitations to be taken seriously. 

“While there will likely be a robust debate about how cities and counties could leave their home state of Virginia, one thing is absolutely certain,” Falwell said. “Many counties are taking a long hard look at escaping the barbaric, totalitarian and corrupt democratic regime in Richmond that is trampling on individual rights throughout the state.

Gov. Justice echoed Falwell’s sentiments. 

“If you're out there, no matter where you may be, Virginia, or wherever you may be as an individual or as a business or whatever,” Justice said, “West Virginia is waiting for you with open arms.”

The West Virginia Senate adopted a resolution that invites Frederick County, Virginia to join the Mountain State. Frederick County officials have said they are not interested in becoming a part of West Virginia. A proposal in the House of Delegates would open that invitation to additional counties in Virginia. 

The Virginia General Assembly would have to approve counties that voted to leave the state, and Falwell mentioned Congress may need to become involved — similar to West Virginia’s secession from Virginia in 1863. 

Gov. Justice acknowledged that would be a longshot and the process leaves many unknowns. 

“We don't know all the intricacies that are going on, and we surely don't know whether or not this can run across the finish line,” Justice said. “And we all know there may be difficulties in making it run across the finish line. However, we all know this: if there's people or there's businesses or there's counties that are discontent, we want the world to know just how welcoming West Virginia is. And so that's our role.”

A native of Washington, West Virginia, Dave Mistich joined West Virginia Public Broadcasting in October of 2012, as the Charleston Reporter. After bouncing around a variety of newsroom roles at WVPB, he now focuses on state-level politics and government, as well as breaking news. Dave plays on the world's best-worst softball team, Chico's Bail Bonds. He can be reached via email at dmistich@wvpublic.org and you can follow him on Twitter @davemistich.

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