West Virginia lawmaker becomes 4th, nationwide, to switch from Democrat to Republican

April 18, 2023
Jen Krausz

First-term West Virginia state delegate Elliott Pritt has switched parties from Democrat to Republican, becoming the fourth lawmaker to do so since March.

West Virginia already had a Republican supermajority in the state legislature, so Pritt's switch does not really improve the situation for Republicans there.

Still, Republican state chair Elaine Ardle welcomed him to their party.

“I want to welcome Delegate Elliott Pritt to the Republican Party. 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,” Ardle said.

Acting against interest

Pritt's election was a pickup for Democrats, since he defeated a Republican incumbent, but now will go back to a Republican seat.

The move may actually hurt Pritt's status on committees in the state House. Because Democrats had only 12 seats out of 100, he had been the minority chair or vice chair of numerous committees prior to the switch.

West Virginia has more registered Republicans (39.6%) than Democrats (32.3%), a shift that occurred in 2014 when then-President Barack Obama began to advocate anti-coal and natural gas policies.

New supermajorities

The Republican State Leadership Committee trumpeted on Twitter that 25 states now have Republican supermajorities.

Switches in North Carolina and Louisiana gave those states new Republican supermajorities in the legislature, which means they can override a Democrat governor's veto.

West Virginia has a Republican governor, Jim Justice, but Louisiana and North Carolina both have Democrat governors and will probably be using their supermajorities often to prevent overreach by the governor and Democrat party there.

Pushback from Democrats

Of course, Democrats in the state criticized Pritt for the move.

“The only thing you can be sure of with Elliott Pritt is that there’s nothing he won’t do in the name of political expediency. There is no line he won’t cross, no ideal he won’t reverse, and no principal he won’t violate if he thinks it will help him at the ballot box,” West Virginia Democratic Party Chair Mike Pushkin said. “In the end, the only thing you can count on with Elliott Pritt is that you can’t count on him.”

But you can't blame Pritt for leaving a party that wants to do crazy outrageous things like transition children medically to the opposite gender and let millions of people stream across the border without doing anything about it.

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