UPDATE: State, local officials react to Gov. Jim Justice's decision to switch parties

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HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WTAP) - UPDATE: 08/04/2017 5:30 p.m.

Reaction is pouring in from both sides of the aisle locally and at the state level.

Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R) said she's ready to work with Governor Justice to grow the economy, fight for energy jobs, and create a stronger West Virginia.

Senator Joe Manchin (D), on the other hand, said he's disappointed with the decision but will work with anyone no matter their political affiliation.

After six months as governor, Jim Justice told the crowd at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena that he can't help them anymore as a Democratic governor.

He said Democrats walked away from him.

Those statements drew a generally positive reaction from the 9,000+ in the arena.

But locally his decision is drawing mixed reviews.

Walt Auvil, a Parkersburg-based lawyer, is on the West Virginia State Democratic Executive Committee.

"He has chosen to join the party that's headed by a con man and fraud in the person of the president and that's disappointing," he said.

Rob Cornelius, the chairman of the Wood County Republican Party, said, "We weren't really expecting it certainly but we look at this governor he's gotten an opportunity now to do a lot of conservative things to join the party of Lincoln the party that's been you know part of the party that started the state 154 years ago he's got a really opportunity to make some changes in his administration."

The Republican National Committee released a statement saying in part, "Governor Justice's announcement is just the latest rejection of a party that is leaderless from top to bottom."

There's no word yet on a statement from the DNC.

UPDATE: 8/3/2017, 7:34 P.M.

Thursday night at a rally for President Donald Trump in Huntington, West Virginia Governor Jim Justice announced he is switching political parties, from Democrat to Republican.

We'll have more on what Justice, and other West Virginia politicians, say about this change, on WTAP News at 11.

UPDATE: 8/3/2017, 6:51 P.M.

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Senate President Mitch Carmichael says he's pleased Governor Jim Justice has decided to change parties.

"We're pleased that the Governor has come to the realization that the strong, conservative leadership of the Republican Party is working for West Virginia," Carmichael said in a statement.

The New York Times reported Thursday afternoon Gov. Justice was planning to announce the switch from Democrat to Republican at Thursday night's rally with President Donald Trump.

"We're eager to work with Governor Justice to apply our team's conservative principles to the executive branch and make a clean break from the status quo that has dominated the previous two administrations," said Carmichael.

House Speaker Tim Armstead released the following statement:

"I'm glad the Governor has recognized that the bold, conservative principles of the Republican Party best represent the people of West Virginia and provide the best path forward to improve our state. That's why the Republican Party has seen the tremendous growth both in registration and elected representatives in recent years. The people of this state want change, and we welcome all West Virginians to the Republican ranks. The majority of the Legislature was elected on a platform of strong, Republican principles, and we hope the Governor embraces these principles as he joins our party."

ORIGINAL STORY: 8/3/2017, 4:50 P.M.

The New York Times is reporting W.Va. Governor Jim Justice is expected to switch parties from Democrat to Republican.

According to the article, three sources familiar with the plans told The New York Times he is expected to announce the plans at tonight's rally with President Donald Trump.

Read the New York Times article at the link in the "Related Links" section of this article.

Keep checking TheNewsCenter.tv and the TNC Now Mobile App for the latest information on this story, and on Trump's speech, which will be livestreamed on the WTAP Facebook page.

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