The Republican supermajority in West Virginia’s House of Delegates grew bigger on Monday after first-term Del. Elliott Pritt switched to the Republican Party, making him the fourth Democrat to change parties nationwide in less than two months.
West Virginia Republican Party broke the news by releasing a statement from the state party chair, Elaine McArdle, saying Pritt will register as a Republican.
“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,” McArdle stated.
Pritt’s seat was a pick-up for the Democrats after he defeated a Republican incumbent in the 2022 election. His switch gives the Republicans 89 members in the House, shrinking Democrats down to 11.
WV GOP saying Delegate Elliott Pritt, elected as a Democrat, is switching over pic.twitter.com/X0tCwYJKi4
— Brad McElhinny (@BradMcElhinny) April 17, 2023
CBS News reported that his decision to switch parties was accounted for in the West Virginia Legislature’s official House roster by late morning.
It is unknown how this will affect his committee assignments; with the Democrats having a small caucus, he served as the minority chair or minority vice chair of numerous committees.
The West Virginia Democratic Party released a statement criticizing Pritt’s decision to switch political parties.
Attached below is the letter I sent to the Minority Leader before I switched parties from Democrat to Republican at the…
“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.”
CBS News explained the Democrats switching political parties started in 2014, when the Republicans took control of the state’s legislation for the first time in over eight decades, mainly due to then-President Barack Obama’s energy policies. The state’s registered Democrats fell below 50 percent in 2014 for the first time since 1932.
Now, 39.6 percent of registered voters in West Virginia are registered Republicans, while only 32.3 percent are Democrats.
However, Pritt is the fourth Democrat to switch political parties over the last month.
25 supermajorities in state House and Senate chambers across the country, with more to come! https://t.co/SgmfagfOn6
— Republican State Leadership Committee (@RSLC) April 7, 2023
Breitbart News wrote this month that Democrat state representatives switching parties and one special election since mid-March gave Republicans three new supermajorities in state legislatures, bringing the total to 25 nationwide.
- Louisiana state Rep. Francis Thompson left the Democrat Party in mid-March
- North Carolina state Rep. Tricia Cotham left the Democrat Party at the beginning of April.
- Wisconsin state Rep. Dan Knodl (R) defeated a Democrat attorney to win an open state Senate seat in Wisconsin at the beginning of April.
- Louisiana state Rep. Jeremy LaCombe left the Democrat Party last week.
Now, Republicans in North Carolina and Louisiana can override vetoes from Democrat governors, while Republicans in Wisconsin are now just two seats away in the State Assembly from having the power to override vetoes from Democrat Gov. Tony Evers.