Featured Image
West Virginia capitolTheodore P. Webb/Shutterstock

CHARLESTON (LifeSiteNews) – The West Virginia State Senate became even more lopsided this month with the defection of former Democrat member Glenn Jeffries, though he downplays any deeper ideological message to his change of allegiance. 

“I have the greatest respect for the many friends and supporters I have been blessed with during my time in public office,” Jeffries said, MetroNews reports. “I hope to continue and strengthen those relationships going forward.” Along with GOP gains in the latest round of elections, he brings state Republicans’ Senate majority up to 31 seats, compared to just three for Democrats.

Early statements from party leaders suggested the switch had to do with Democrats’ increasing radicalism, with West Virginia GOP co-chair Tony Hodge saying that “Glenn described himself to me as a ‘conservative’” and “expressed to me his discomfort with the leftward direction of the Democratic Party and that he no longer identifies with them.” West Virginia Democratic Party chair Mike Pushkin claimed such reasoning was “like being called ugly by a frog.”

Jeffries himself, however, downplayed ideology or partisanship in an interview with MetroNews host Hoppy Kercheval. “No,” he said when asked whether Democrats’ current direction motivated his change, “I can’t control the narrative from either party.” Instead, he said he thought he would have greater potential to influence policy as a Republican: “My sole focus is bringing businesses in here so we can start increasing our population again.”

Still, he is part of a trend for the Mountain State; MetroNews notes that “several Republican candidates who had been Democrats in the past were winners” in last month’s midterms. “Those include Mike Oliverio, a former senator from Fairmont who will serve again with the GOP; Jason Barrett of Martinsburg who was a Democratic delegate until a switch last year; and Mark Hunt of Charleston, a former Democratic delegate who now joins the Senate as a Republican.”

Jeffries holds a mixed record on the issues. He was endorsed by left-wing unions such as the West Virginia Education Association and state chapter of the AFL-CIO and a 0% score from West Virginians for Life, but was also endorsed by the state Chamber of Commerce and has a 60% score from the American Conservative Union, as well as mixed voting records on gun rights and environmental matters.

The senator’s switch comes months after West Virginia Republicans enacted a law banning abortion from the moment of implantation for any reason except to save a mother’s life or for babies conceived in rape or incest, punishable by abortionists losing their medical license or facing up to ten years in prison.