West Virginia delegate switches parties from Democrat to Republican
A member of the West Virginia House of Delegates switched his political affiliation on Wednesday, moving across the aisle to join the Republican Party.
Del. Mick Bates of Raleigh County announced on Wednesday that he changed his voter registration status from Democrat to Republican and will caucus with the GOP in the West Virginia House of Delegates, growing the party’s already existing supermajority.
With Bates, Republicans will control the chamber with 78 seats to Democrats’ 22, according to West Virginia Public Broadcasting.
“After much prayer and deliberation during and following the 2021 legislative session, I have made the decision to ensure I best represent the interests of the people of the 30th. District, Beckley and Raleigh County and that I do so as a member of the Majority Party,” Bates wrote in a statement posted by WVVA.
Bates went on to say that people no longer see a difference between West Virginia Democrats and Washington Democrats. He said the Democratic Party at a national level continues to hold positions that “alienate and anger” rural voters and do not reflect the “priorities, values or beliefs” of West Virginians.
“At a national level, the controlling interests and leadership of the Democratic party continue to pursue positions that alienate and anger voters in rural parts of the country and don’t reflect the priorities, values or beliefs of the people in West Virginia,” Bates wrote.
“This is not changing and appears to be getting worse, not better,” he added.
Bates noted that there has been a 30 percent “swing” in voter registrations in Raleigh County from Democrat to Republican.
He quoted former President Reagan, writing, “I didn’t leave the party, the party left me.”
Bates won reelection in West Virginia’s 30th District in 2020, beating Republican challenger Tyler Trump 4,622 votes to 3,081. Bates secured 60 percent of the vote, and Trump secured just 40 percent.
During the 2021 legislative session, Bates sometimes voted with the majority party, including on a bill banning transgender girls from playing on sports teams that correspond with their gender identity and a rollback of abortion rights, according to West Virginia Public Broadcasting.
In the 2020 election, Raleigh County, which is included in the delegation’s 30th District, voted overwhelmingly for former President Trump — 24,673 votes to 7,982 — according to The New York Times.