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Republican Jim Justice reelected as West Virginia governor

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Republican West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice has won reelection. He fended off a Democratic challenger by positioning himself as an ally of President Donald Trump with the experience to create jobs.

Justice beat Democrat Ben Salango, a Kanawha county commissioner. Salango tried to overcome his lack of name recognition with a campaign aimed at painting the billionaire governor as more interested in running his business empire than fixing the state’s roads and economy.

Justice will serve a second and final term under the state’s term limits.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.

CHARLESTON, W.Va (AP) — West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice is seeking reelection as his Republican party hopes for victories all the way down the ballot.

Democrat Ben Salango is challenging the incumbent governor, arguing he spent much of his term disengaged from the office and neglected economic development. Salango has toured the state with small outdoor events during a campaign season that has been heavily diminished due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Justice is touting his emphasis on job creation and his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, during which he has sought to increase testing.

The state’s five electoral college votes are at stake. President Donald Trump, four years ago, defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton by 42 percentage points.

Justice has aligned himself with the president in television ads and held weekly news conferences on the coronavirus. He won in 2016 as a Democrat before switching parties after seven months in office.

Shelley Moore Capito is hoping to become the first West Virginia Republican to be reelected to the U.S. Senate in more than a century. She is seeking her second six-year term against Democrat Paula Jean Swearengin.

Swearengin is a progressive Democrat and daughter of coal mine workers. She backs Medicare for all and strengthening worker’s rights. Both candidates talk of expanding broadband in the rural state.

West Virginians are also voting in three races for the U.S. House. Statewide they are electing an attorney general, secretary of state and treasurer.

Over 100 seats in the state legislature are also on the ballot.

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Find AP’s full election coverage at APNews.com/Election2020

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