CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WBOY) — Citing calls from local, regional and national media, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice held a news conference Friday morning to discuss a proposal from state legislatures in western Maryland, who expressed a desire to have the three counties they represent become a part of West Virginia.
The three counties, Garrett, Allegany and Washington, largely sit above West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle, and tend to align more politically with the Mountain State, as opposed to Maryland’s eastern counties.
“A lot of the people in these counties believe as we believe here in West Virginia,” Justice said. The “powers that be” in Maryland may “love to see” those counties leave Maryland, he added.
“We’re absolutely standing here with open arms. We got it going on here in West Virginia, right now. Get on the bandwagon! You sure as the dickens won’t ever regret it,” the governor continued.
“Our state supports personal freedoms, we value the second amendment, and we love the rights of the unborn. We love and embrace our energy industry,” Gov. Justice said during the press conference. “Moving to West Virginia means job opportunities like crazy and a chance to live in paradise. No matter where you’re from, we’d love to have you in West Virginia.”
Gov. Justice was quick to say that the state did not recruit the Maryland counties. He also introduced West Virginia Del. Gary Howell, (R- Mineral County), to explain how a Maryland delegate had approached him with the idea. The Maryland delegate and other legislators later came to Charleston to meet with West Virginia legislative leaders, Howell said.
The process for something like this to happen, however, is a very complicated one — and very unlikely, according to The Hill.
Justice addressed these difficulties, saying “some people may regard this as impossible,” but he vowed to put the idea in the form of a resolution at West Virginia’s next legislative session.
Maryland State Sen. Paul Corderman, who represents Washington County, has since said he has “no interest” in taking West Virginia up on the offer, and he believes his constituents have no interest, either.
“I am grateful to live in the state of Maryland where Governor Larry Hogan has prioritized the concerns and values of Washington County during his two terms in office,” wrote Corderman.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan also commented on Justice’s remarks, saying he thinks the whole thing is a publicity stunt, WDVM reported. Hogan chalked up the idea to residents in western Maryland counties feeling left out by the state’s “increasingly more progressive legislature.”
Justice, meanwhile, said Friday morning that he would welcome the counties to West Virginia “in every way.”
“It’s a chance to live in paradise, I mean it,” Justice said. “Why in the world wouldn’t you want to come?”