CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Citing calls from local, regional and national media, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice held a news conference Friday morning to discuss a proposal made by some state legislators in western Maryland to have the three counties they represent become a part of West Virginia.
The three counties, Garrett, home to the Deep Creek Lake area; Allegany, where Cumberland is; and Washington, anchored by Hagerstown, largely sit above West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle and tend to align more politically with the Mountain State, as opposed to Maryland’s more urban 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 said.
“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.
Citing reasons why the counties may want to join West Virginia, Justice listed that the state: embraces the energy industry, the second amendment, right to life and supports personal freedoms. “Our government does not get in people’s way,” said the governor.
Gov. Justice was quick to say that the state did not recruit the Maryland counties and had WV Del. Gary Howell, R- Mineral County, explain how Maryland legislators has approached him and he set up a meeting for them with West Virginia legislative leaders.
Speaking to the 251,617 residents of the three counties, Justice said: “we would welcome you in every way. It’s a chance to live in paradise, I mean it. Why in the world wouldn’t you want to come?”
The process for something like this to happen is a very complicated one and something that is unlikely to happen, according to an article in The Hill.
Justice addressed the difficulty, 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.
West Virginia Senate President Craig Blair, who represents Berkeley County, just to the south of the counties in question, used West Virginia’s separation from Virginia as basis for why the proposal has standing.
“Certainly West Virginia is an easy choice,” said West Virginia House Speaker Roger Hanshaw.
In conclusion, Gov. Justice said: “Let’s do it, come on down. We are the diamond in the rough that everybody missed.”