CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Former U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin has filed pre-candidacy papers to run for West Virginia governor.
According to the Secretary of State’s website, Goodwin filed the papers Friday, four days after announcing that he was stepping down as the top prosecutor in southern West Virginia.
Joining the race puts Goodwin into an already contested Democratic primary in May. Billionaire coal businessman and owner of The Greenbrier resort Jim Justice is already in the race, as is state Senate Minority Leader Jeff Kessler.
West Virginia Republicans largely have unified around state Senate President Bill Cole.
After resigning on Dec. 28, Goodwin had said he had planned to return to his family’s law practice, while brushing away questions about political aspirations.
Under federal law, Goodwin had been unable to conduct any campaign activity while serving as prosecutor, such as opening a fundraising account.
Goodwin was appointed as U.S. attorney by President Barack Obama in 2010. He had served in the federal prosecutor’s office since January 2001.
Goodwin’s resignation came less than a month after the federal trial of former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship. Blankenship was found guilty on Dec. 3 of conspiring to willfully violate mine safety rules at West Virginia’s Upper Big Branch mine, which exploded in 2010 and killed 29 men. He was acquitted of felonies that could have extended his sentence to 30 years.
Goodwin’s office also drew convictions of former executives of Freedom Industries for a January 2014 chemical spill in Charleston that contaminated the drinking water of more than 300,000 people.
His office’s public corruption probe put a variety of local officials in Mingo County in prison. Leading up to Blankenship, the five-year investigation into the Upper Big Branch blast netted convictions of four other Massey officials.