Governor James C. Justice II was born on April 27, 1951, to James Conley Justice and Edna Ruth Justice. A lifelong West Virginian, he attended Raleigh County public schools and graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School in 1969, and attended Greenbrier Military Academy as a post-graduate. Governor Justice went on to Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia, and was captain of the golf team for two years before earning his undergraduate degree and a Masters in Business Administration.
Governor Justice’s remarkable career took off in 1976 when he joined his family’s business and established the Justice Family Farms in Monroe County, West Virginia. With over 50,000 acres of farmland across multiple states, his agricultural enterprise thrived. As the largest farmer east of the Mississippi River and a seven-time national corn growing champion, Governor Justice’s passion for nature extended to developing Stoney Brook Plantation, a sprawling 15,000-acre hunting and fishing preserve.
Following the passing of his father in 1993, Governor Justice assumed leadership as President and CEO of Bluestone Industries, Inc. and Bluestone Coal Corporation. Over the next 15 years, he oversaw a substantial expansion of diverse businesses, including coal reserves, Christmas tree farms, cotton gins, turfgrass operations, golf courses, and land development projects. Prior to becoming Governor, he helmed 102 companies, demonstrating his expertise in job creation.
In 2008, Governor Justice orchestrated the sale of Bluestone Industries, Inc. to Mechel, OAO, a prominent Russian mining company. Unfortunately, Mechel faced financial difficulties, resulting in layoffs and potential default on obligations. However, Governor Justice successfully reclaimed these assets in 2015, reopening mines and generating over 200 new mining jobs.
In 2009, Governor Justice’s rescue efforts extended to The Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, which faced bankruptcy and workforce cuts. Determined to revitalize the resort, he reversed benefit reductions and made significant investments in renovations and expansions. His visionary leadership attracted prestigious events like the PGA Tour, NFL and NBA training camps, and various high-profile acts and conferences to The Greenbrier.
As both a successful business owner and the Governor of West Virginia, Jim Justice possesses a deep understanding of job creation and economic growth. His expertise in these areas enables him to effectively foster a business-friendly environment, attract investments, and create opportunities that drive prosperity for the state and its residents.
Governor Justice’s unwavering commitment to youth programs in West Virginia spans over three decades. He has served as President of Beckley Little League since 1992, fostering its growth to accommodate over 1,000 kids playing on 80 teams. Additionally, he has actively coached basketball teams of all ages for 36 years, achieving significant milestones such as coaching his 1,000th career win in 2016. Governor Justice’s dedication to community service extends beyond sports, as he organizes the Mountain State Coal Classic Basketball Tournament, which provides substantial scholarships and support to participating schools.
Governor Justice and First Lady Cathy Justice prioritize giving back to West Virginia’s youth, exemplified by their annual distribution of $1 million in gifts to children in need. His exceptional contributions have been recognized through numerous awards, including the Beckley-Raleigh County Chamber of Commerce’s Community Service Award, the City of Hope Medical Center’s “Spirit of Life” award, and the title of “West Virginian of the Year” by esteemed publications and organizations. In 2010, he was named a “Distinguished West Virginian” by Joe Manchin, and in 2011, he was honored at the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s Blue Ridge Chapter “Dinner of Champions.”
Governor Justice’s passion and impact extend beyond his political and business endeavors, with his thoughtful actions earning him accolades such as Mountain Athletic Conference “Coach of the Year” and West Virginia High School “Coach of the Year” in 2012, as well as being named “West Virginian of the Year” in 2014 and 2016 by the Clarksburg Exponent Telegram.
In 2015, Governor Justice announced his candidacy for the office of Governor of West Virginia. After 19 months on the campaign trail sharing his vision for transforming West Virginia, he was elected the 36th Governor of West Virginia. He won with a broad coalition of support from Democrats, Republicans, and Independents. In November 2020, Governor Justice won a second term earning more votes than any Republican incumbent governor in state history. On April 27, 2023, his 71st birthday, he announced his candidacy for U.S. Senate, surrounded by family, friends, and supporters at The Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.
Governor Justice and his wife, First Lady Cathy Justice, have been best friends since high school. They recently celebrated their 46th wedding anniversary. The Governor and the First Lady have two adult children and spend time spoiling four grandchildren. In addition, they have three dogs: Lucy and Ellie, Boston Terriers, and their famous Babydog, an English Bulldog.
At the heart of Jim Justice’s campaign team is Babydog, the beloved English bulldog. Babydog symbolizes warmth, love, and connection, embodying the shared values that drive Jim’s mission to serve West Virginia. Joining Jim on the campaign trail, Babydog spreads cheer and fosters unity. You too can tag along and show your support with Babydog gear, proudly displaying your love for this cherished pup and contributing to Jim’s vision for a brighter West Virginia.