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New GOP West Virginia gov won't commit to backing party's Senate nominee: report

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, a former Democrat who announced in August that he was switching his party affiliation to Republican, declined this week to pledge his support for his new party's eventual challenger to Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).

BuzzFeed News reported that during a GOP gathering in Charleston, W.Va., on Monday, Justice spoke positively about Republicans who were running to unseat Manchin. But he stopped short of making a loyalty pledge when asked to do so.

Instead, BuzzFeed reported, citing two Republicans who were in the room, Justice said that he would look to President Trump regarding the Senate race.

Justice also reportedly mentioned his "long-standing friendship" with Manchin, a moderate Democrat who is up for reelection in 2018. Manchin endorsed Justice's gubernatorial campaign in 2016, while Justice was still a Democrat.

The chairman of the West Virginia GOP told BuzzFeed he was "confident that the governor will support the Republican nominee after our primary and as things get closer to the election to 2018."

Manchin is expected to face a tough reelection bid next year. He's among a handful of Democratic Senate incumbents vying to keep their seats in states Trump won by sizable margins in 2016.

But the West Virginia Democrat is said to remain on friendly terms with Trump.

Justice announced at a campaign-style rally for Trump last month that he would become a Republican, praising the president as someone with "real ideas."

"This man is a good man. He's got a backbone. He's got real ideas," Justice said of Trump. "He cares about America. He cares about us in West Virginia."

Justice had previously visited Trump in the White House to discuss manufacturing and the coal industry.

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