Lawmaker Deals Dems a Painful Blow as He Jumps Ship for GOP and Leaves Them Even More Vulnerable
Several Democrats have switched over to the GOP in the last few weeks, and now an official in the state of West Virginia has joined the parade.
On Monday, state Del. Elliott Pritt announced he was leaving the Democratic Party behind and registering as a Republican, adding one more vote to the GOP’s supermajority in the Mountain State.
Pritt is in his first term after beating a Republican incumbent in the last election, according to Fox News.
In a letter to Minority Leader Doug Skaff and the House Democratic Caucus announcing the change, he said, “I can no longer in good conscience remain a Democrat.”
“It has become more and more obvious that there is very little room in the party for traditional values or differences regarding political opinion — we are being pushed out,” Pritt wrote.
“I want to welcome Delegate Elliott Pritt to the Republican Party,” West Virginia GOP chairwoman Elgine McArdle said Monday after Pritt’s announcement.
“Like so many West Virginians, Delegate Pritt has recognized that the Democratic Party of today is not the Democratic Party that our parents grew up with,” she said.
“WVGOP Chairwoman Statement on Delegate Elliott Pritt Joining the Republican Party” pic.twitter.com/PuFzS6DeBF
— WVGOP (@WVGOP) April 17, 2023
The addition gives state Republicans 89 members in the House of Delegates, while the Democrats have fallen to a mere 11 seat holders.
The Republicans hold a supermajority in both houses of the West Virginia Legislature: In the Senate, they lead with 31 seats to the Democrats’ three.
Twitter users were exultant in the switch:
Fayette County, West Virginia Delegate Elliott Pritt has officially announced that he’s leaving the Democrat Party to become a Republican. Pritt becomes the FOURTH lawmaker nationwide to leave the Democrat Party in just the last two months.
— Charlie Kirk (@charliekirk11) April 18, 2023
@ElliottPritt maybe the latest West Virginian to leave the democratic party, but he won’t be the last. Welcome to the @WVGOP pic.twitter.com/2gejw0ke57
— Kayla Kessinger (@KaylaKessinger) April 17, 2023
Pritt is only the latest Democrat to dump the left-wing party and move across the aisle. Three others have made the switch in the last few weeks.
Two of them were in Louisiana. State Rep. Jeremy LaCombe announced last week that he was moving to the GOP. He was preceded a few weeks earlier by state Rep. Francis Thompson, who was elected as a conservative Democrat but found himself no longer welcome in a party lurching to the left.
Meanwhile, two weeks ago, North Carolina state Rep. Tricia Cotham dumped her blue label and announced she is a Republican.
These four are far from alone. According to Vox, nearly 90 Democrats have shed their party labels and switched to the GOP since 1994. Meanwhile, during that same period, only 23 lawmakers went from the GOP to the Democrats.
Clearly, many who would have been termed a “Blue Dog Democrat” in the past have discovered their conservative leanings are simply not welcome in the increasingly hard-left party.
West Virginia, in particular, has been trending increasingly to the right, especially after the campaign against the coal sector started by then-President Barack Obama. Today, U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin is the last Democrat remaining in high office in the state — and his status is increasingly talked about as being “endangered.”
According to Ballotpedia, the GOP holds the majority of power in state legislatures.
“As of April 11, 2023, Republicans controlled 54.94% of all state legislative seats nationally, while Democrats held 44.45%,” the site reported.
Pritt’s move just made the gap even greater.
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