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Gov. Jim Justice Faces Heavy Business Debts as He Seeks Senate Seat

U.S.Gov. Jim Justice Faces Heavy Business Debts as He Seeks Senate Seat

Jim Justice, the businessman-turned-politician governor of West Virginia, has been pursued in court for years by banks, governments, business partners and former employees for millions of dollars in unmet obligations.

And for a long time, Mr. Justice and his family’s companies have managed to stave off one threat after another with wily legal tactics notably at odds with the aw-shucks persona that has endeared him to so many West Virginians. On Tuesday, he is heavily favored to win the Republican Senate primary and cruise to victory in the general election, especially after the departure of the Democratic incumbent, Joe Manchin III.

But now, as he wraps up his second term as governor and campaigns for a seat in the U.S. Senate, things are looking dicier. Much like Donald J. Trump, with whom he is often compared — with whom he often compares himself — Mr. Justice has faced a barrage of costly judgments and legal setbacks.

And this time, there may be too many, some suspect, for Mr. Justice, 73, and his family to fend them all off.

“It’s a simple matter of math,” said Steven New, a lawyer in Mr. Justice’s childhood hometown, Beckley, W.Va., who, like many lawyers in coal country, has tangled with Justice companies.

Mr. Justice and his scores of businesses would be able to handle some of these potential multimillion-dollar judgments in isolation, Mr. New said. But “when you add it all up, and put the judgments together close in time, it would appear he doesn’t have enough,” he said.


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