West Virginia Republicans are calling for conservative counties in Virginia to leave and join West Virginia, 160 years after it seceded from Virginia. 

Two bills in the West Virginia state legislature are advancing. One calls for the addition of new counties such as Frederick County in northwestern Virginia, while the other extends an invitation to all other counties who wish to secede. 

Republican state Delegate Gary Howell described his bill in an interview with CNN, where he called it a way to “prevent civil war.”

The bill got more attention when West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice and Liberty University President Jerry Falwell, Jr. reminded Virginians that, under West Virginia law dating back to the creation of the state, “additional territory may be admitted into and become part of [West Virginia] state with the consent of the [Virginia] legislature.”

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In the 2016 Election, the two states couldn’t be more different. President Donald Trump won with an overwhelming 68.6% of the vote over Hillary Clinton‘s 26.5% in West Virginia, while Clinton got 50.2% of the vote while Trump got 44.8% in Virginia.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam‘s office dismissed the efforts for secession as a political stunt aimed at helping Justice gain popularity ahead of a reelection year. “Sounds like it’s an election year in West Virginia,” said Alena Yarmosky, a spokeswoman for Northam. 

Justice is up for reelection in 2020 and is facing challenges from both Republicans and Democrats.

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