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Democrats Dealt Another Blow: Another Lawmaker Switches To Republican Party

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


One of the most powerful Democrats in the West Virginia legislature says he will switch parties and run for secretary of state in 2019.

Doug Skaff registered as a pre-candidate for the office, saying in a statement, “In today’s ever-changing world I will bring a deep understanding of our laws, demonstrate strong leadership abilities, and uphold and promote fairness, transparency, and integrity in all aspects of the office. I’ve had enough.”

Campaigns can begin raising money and filing campaign finance reports once they have filed their pre-candidacy paperwork. Until a candidate files a separate certificate of announcement and pays the filing fee, they are not considered a legitimate contender. January is the official registration month for the 2024 election.

Skaff resigned as Democratic leader in August and his House seat from Kanawha County last month, Fox News reported.

Elgine McArdle, chairwoman of the West Virginia Republican Party, appeared to be skeptical of Skaff’s declaration.

“The West Virginia Republican Party recognizes the philosophical nuances that can exist within the Party and welcomes those who genuinely believe in our cause; however, Republican voters are sometimes tasked with differentiating between ‘philosophical nuances’ and ‘diametric ideological opposition,’” McCardle said in a statement. “Now that Skaff is labeling himself as a ‘Republican,’ despite his storied liberal record in the House, the upcoming primary is one of those times.”

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As to changing parties, Skaff says he’s pro-life, pro-guns, and pro-coal, and like so many others, his values haven’t changed, just his political label.

“100,000 Republicans didn’t just move to West Virginia overnight, and change their party affiliation,” Skaff said. “These were old blue dog Democrats who were always conservative mainstream and just registered with a different party. Like many others before me, I know I’m not the first and I won’t be the last to work with a team in the Republican Party that represents the majority of West Virginia’s interests.”

Skaff first entered the House in 2009, where he remained until 2014. He was re-elected in 2018. The Charleston Gazette-Mail and other newspapers in the state are owned by HD Media, where he serves as president.

“While I appreciate Doug finally putting his cards on the table about his long-rumored, politically expedient party switch,’ Pushkin said. “I’m surprised he would try to reinvent himself as a right-wing conservative in the process. I know Doug has long been intoxicated by the idea of winning a statewide office. Still, his candidacy could leave Republican primary voters with a hangover when they find out about his actual voting record.”

Skaff is one of many Democrats lately who have switched to the Republican Party.

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Last month, Louisiana State Rep. Jeremy LaCombe announced he left the Democratic Party and registered as a Republican.

Although the reason for LaCombe’s switch was not immediately clear, he is now the second Louisiana Democrat in less than a month to do so, and the third in the country after a state lawmaker in North Carolina did the same.

Because another Democrat, Rep. Francis Thompson of Delhi, switched to the GOP, Republicans recently gained a supermajority in the state House, a necessary threshold for overriding vetoes and passing tax measures.

Tricia Cotham, a state representative from North Carolina, did the same earlier this month.

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LaCombe defeated Republicans with 68% of the vote in a special election and 62% of the vote in a general election to win his House seat in 2019.

The party switches comes as President Joe Biden faces a near-record low approval rating among key groups.

A RealClearPolitics (RCP) average shows former President Donald Trump has surpassed Biden in polls for a potential match-up, The Daily Wire noted.

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