BECKLEY, WV (WVNS) — A West Virginia delegate is switching party affiliations.

Del. Mick Bates announced Wednesday, May 12, 2021 he is switching from Democratic to Republican. He represents the state’s 30th district, which covers Beckley. The decision comes six months after Bates, a delegate since 2014, won a fourth term in Charleston.

Bates’ full statement is as follows:

After much prayer and deliberation during and following the 2021 legislative session, I have made the decision to ensure I best represent the interests of the people of the 30th. District, Beckley and Raleigh County and that I do so as a member of the Majority Party. This morning, I officially changed my voter registration status from Democrat to Republican and will join the Republican Caucus in the West Virginia House of Delegates.

I am far from the first person to make such a change and I will not be the last. Over the past 3 years there has been a 30% swing in registrations in Raleigh County from Democrat to Republican. The line often used, and attributed to President Ronald Reagan, is that “I didn’t leave the party, the party left me.”

There used to be a difference between the way West Virginia Democrats and Washington Democrats were viewed. People no longer see that difference. At a national level, the controlling interests and leadership of the Democratic party continue to pursue positions that alienate and anger voters in rural parts of the country and don’t reflect the priorities, values or beliefs of the people in West Virginia. This is not changing and appears to be getting worse, not better.

I have many friends that are registered Democrats and a number of Independent friends. I have an equal number of friends and supporters that are registered Republican. We are all West Virginians who need to work together to move this State forward and address its many problems.

I expect that this decision may disappoint and upset some. I believe that a greater number will welcome it and see it as the right thing to do at the right time for the people I represent.

I have always done my best for people, regardless of party affiliation. That hasn’t and will not change. I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for the remainder of my term to build a better, stronger and healthier Beckley, Raleigh County and Southern West Virginia. There is a lot more work to do.

WV Del. Mick Bates (R), 30th District