Justice needs a new approach

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice has done quite well by using President Donald Trump as a model of how to handle oneself in politics. Last year, amid a nationwide political revolution that ushered Republican Trump into office, Justice prevailed as a Democrat by using many of the same tactics, strategies and rhetoric that worked for Trump.

Fast forward out of the campaign and into governing: How’s that approach been working out for both of them? Their base voters continue to approve. They have had some success in executive branch activities.

But in dealing with Congress, Trump has not done so well. Ditto for Justice and the West Virginia Legislature.

Yet Justice continues to belittle lawmakers as a whole, apparently with little thought to how that affects his ability to get things done through cooperation, compromise and reasonably cordial relationships.

Just last week, he was at it again. Justice was critical of a plan to spend $860,000 to upgrade eight restrooms in the Capitol. “We’ve got schools with bathrooms that don’t work and these politicians want the taxpayers to pay for gold-plated toilets? You’ve got to be kidding me,” the governor said.

State Senate President Mitch Carmichael explained that the restrooms have not been remodeled since 1932 and need changes to comply with the federal Disabilities Act. That seems reasonable.

But restrooms are not the point. The governor’s continuing adversarial relationship with lawmakers is. For the good of his fellow West Virginians, perhaps Justice should try extending an olive branch.

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