Critics can kiss Babydog’s ‘hiney,’ West Virginia governor says in State of the State address

Justice was referring to a Dec. 20 tweet from the actress, Midler, who expressed animosity towards Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va) after he said he was a “no” on President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better legislation.

“He wants us all to be just like his state, West Virginia,” Midler said in the tweet. “Poor, illiterate and strung out.”

“This has been the year of Babydog, hasn’t it?” the governor said, as the dog was ushered onto the floor of the State Capitol .

It certainly has. The one-year-old bulldog, who belongs to Justice and West Virginia first lady Cathy Justice, made her first public appearance early last year at a press briefing, where the governor said she correctly predicted that Tampa Bay would win with 31 points in Super Bowl LV. Since then, Babydog has been a fixture in West Virginia politics.

The pup also is the face of “Do it for Babydog,” the state’s COVID-19 vaccination incentive program for students and schools that took place in November and December. Those who got vaccinated entered a sweepstakes, with prizes ranging from lifetime hunting and fishing licenses to scholarships to a school party with Justice (as Santa) and Babydog as guests.

Justice postponed his address, originally scheduled for Jan. 12, because he tested positive for Covid-19 earlier in the month. In a statement announcing that his speech would be pushed back, Justice said he was feeling “extremely unwell” but was grateful to be fully vaccinated.