The Associated Press

CHARLESTON - Former West Virginia commerce secretary Woody Thrasher is running for governor.

The Republican businessman announced his 2020 bid Tuesday, saying the state needs "real leadership" to create economic growth in the state.

Thrasher is the founder of an engineering company with about 700 employees and offices in seven states.

Republican Gov. Jim Justice forced Thrasher out of the commerce department last year after numerous complaints about poor management of a housing assistance program for 2016 flood victims.

Thrasher's candidacy comes as the governor staffs up his own reelection effort with current and former associates of President Trump amid a string of damaging news stories, including one that made public a federal subpoena into the governor's posh resort.

Justice's campaign manager panned Thrasher in a statement after he announced his candidacy.

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