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The Gazette-Mail endorses Ben Salango in the Democratic primary for governor of West Virginia, and Woody Thrasher in the Republican primary.

On the Democratic side, there are a host of good candidates. Stephen Smith and his West Virginia Can’t Wait initiative have inspired people across the state to take an interest in their government and how it’s run. Smith has detailed plans on how to change state government for the better. State Sen. Ron Stollings, D-Boone, has experience and brings important knowledge to the table as a physician during this particular time. But Salango is the candidate we believe can do the most to move West Virginia forward.

As a Kanawha County Commissioner, Salango was out in front of the novel coronavirus before the state government was. He also helped develop a family leave policy for Kanawha County workers, something the state desperately needs, as has become ever more evident during the COVID-19 pandemic. Of course, Salango spearheading the development at the Shawnee Sports Park, turning it into a facility worthy of hosting soccer tournaments from around the country, was a great accomplishment for the people of Kanawha County. We think he can do similar things at the state level.

Most importantly, during a time of divided politics and rancor, we think Salango can bring West Virginians together and refocus the Legislature on issues that are important to the state and its people, rather than national checklist items for out-of-state lobbyists and think tanks.

On the Republican side, Thrasher is the obvious choice. He departed from incumbent Gov. Jim Justice’s administration under acrimonious circumstances, but that responsibility lies ultimately with Justice.

Thrasher was one of the few members of Justice’s early administration to actually divest himself of his financial interests, and pledges he would do so again as governor, while Justice continues to hang onto numerous businesses that conflict with his role as the state’s top executive.

Thrasher would live in Charleston and show up to work everyday, something Justice has never done. Justice wouldn’t even relinquish his role as a high school basketball coach.

True, Justice has been in Charleston a lot more lately, giving daily press briefings on the COVID-19 pandemic. His leadership at the beginning of the crisis was shaky. After that, he’s simply done OK.

Justice doesn’t really stand for anything other than himself. Thrasher would do more.