West Virginia Delegate David Elliott Pritt has left the Democratic Party and registered as a Republican.
Pritt was one of just 12 Democrats in the West Virginia House. With his shift, the 100-member body now has 89 Republicans and just 11 liberals.
WV GOP saying Delegate Elliott Pritt, elected as a Democrat, is switching over pic.twitter.com/X0tCwYJKi4
— Brad McElhinny (@BradMcElhinny) April 17, 2023
In a letter posted to Facebook announcing his move, Pritt wrote that he “simply cannot continue down the road that the Democratic Party is headed if I am to accurately represent my constituents and my people as well as my own conscience.”
“This decision has not been made lightly nor on a whim, and after weeks of personal consideration, soul searching, and discussion with my family and many of those who supported my election and campaign,” he wrote. “I have come to the conclusion that to be an effective delegate for the people of my district and to accurately represent the will of my people, I can no longer in good conscience remain a Democrat.”
West Virginia Republican Party Chairwoman Elgine McArdle issued a statement welcoming Pritt to the 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,” said McArdle, according to a report from 13 News.
In a statement released by the state’s Democratic Party, House Minority Leader Doug Skaff said they are “disappointed” with Pritt’s decision.
“Obviously, I’m disappointed in Elliott‘s decision to switch parties. It’s kind of odd that just a few weeks ago he was one of the most vocal Democrats working within our caucus to call out and hold Republicans accountable for their legislative agenda,” Skaff said. “Elliott made it clear that the Republicans had their priorities wrong on numerous occasions, and I’m curious to see how well he’ll be received within his new caucus.”
Pritt is a former socialist who serves as the minority chair of the Committee on Fire Departments and Emergency Medical Services, the minority vice chair of the Committee on Pensions and Retirement, the minority vice chair of the Committee on Jails and Prisons, the minority vice chair of the Committee on Education, and on the Committee for Economic Development and Tourism.
Prior to running as a Democrat, Pritt was a member of the Socialist Party, before switching to the Mountain Party. He is an Air Force veteran and former school teacher.
Republicans also hold a supermajority in West Virginia’s 34-member state Senate, which consists of 31 Republicans and three Democrats.
Senator Joe Manchin is the only Democrat that holds a statewide office in the state.