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Coal billionaire to run for West Virginia governor

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World Coal,

Billionaire, Jim Justice, who made his fortune at the helm of his family’s coal businesses, has announced he is to run for the Democratic nomination for West Virginia governor next year – his first bid for political office.

In a press release announcing his bid, Justice claimed credit for creating or saving thousands of jobs in West Virginia’s energy sector. He recently bought back the loss-making Mechel Bluestone – formerly, Bluestone Coal Corp., a company he sold in 2009 for US$436 million – from Mechel for US$5 million.

“Justice supports an all-of-the-above energy approach, which promotes growth in coal, natural gas and wind energy to create jobs and prepare West Virginia for the future,” the press release said.

The bid is not without controversy, however, with Justice only switching party allegiance to the Democrats in February of this year. Meanwhile, an investigation by National Public Radio last year alleged that companies owned by Justice owed US$2 million in federal fines.

“The Democratic Party in West Virginia is desperate,” Conrad Lucas, chair of the state’s Republican Party told the Wall Street Journal. “They looked for the biggest checkbook in the state and they found Jim Justice.”

Justice is believed the be the only West Virginian billionaire and is best known as the owner of the historic Greenbrier resort in the Allegheny Mountains, which he bought out of bankruptcy in 2009.

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