BECKLEY, WV (WVNS) — Mick Bates was elected to the West Virginia House of Delegate in 2014 as a democrat. He has kept his seat since then, winning elections with a “D” next to his name.

But on Wednesday, May 12, 2021 he announced a change in political parties.

“It’s been something that’s been on my mind for probably over six months. I just got tired of justifying the D after my name,” Bates said.

Bates will finish his term in the House of Delegates as a Republican.

“After going through the last legislative session, and seeing the duration of states moving in and what’s happening nationally, I think the best way for me to represent the interest of the people that I represent, in Beckley, in Raleigh county and in the southern part of the state, is to do it as a republican,” Bates explained.

Since his announcement, Bates received a lot of criticism from the community and other politicians. House Minority Leader Doug Skaff said in a statement, “Delegate Bates must have decided that now is the right time for him to turn his back on the constituents who elected him to prioritize his future political ambitions.”

Bates said to him this is only a change of a letter next to his name, and does not change how he plans to move forward with legislation.

“I’m the same person, in respect to the letter next to my name. I have a reputation of being a conservative, business-minded democrat and I’m still the same way as a republican,” Bates said.

He said he hopes to continue his plans for the rest of his term, plans he made as a democrat, and will see them through as a Republican.

“Fix the internet, make sure this federal money is spent appropriately and spent here, and spent on real meaningful things that make a difference and so it’s not wasted. To put together a plan for redistricting that puts Raleigh County back together again. And to develop a real coalfields comeback plan,” Bates said.