W.VA. Gop Increases Majority As Dem Lawmaker Flips Parties

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — One of a shrinking number of Democrats in the West Virginia Legislature announced Thursday that he is changing his party affiliation to Republican.

Sen. Glenn Jeffries of Putnam County said he is leaving the Democratic party, increasing Republicans' control of the state Senate to 31 of its 34 seats come January. This year, Senate Republicans occupied 23 seats to the Democrats' 11.

That means Republicans will hold a total of 119 out of 134 positions in the state Legislature at the start of the 2023 session.

“I have the greatest respect for the many friends and supporters I have been blessed with during my time in public office,” Jeffries said in a statement Thursday. “I hope to continue and strengthen those relationships going forward.”

Jeffries said that when he was first running for election in 2016, he pledged to work in a bipartisan way. He plans to continue those efforts, he said.

“Our politics have gotten so personal and difficult,” he said. “I want to make sure that I serve constituents and our state in a respectful, thoughtful way that leads to a better life for all West Virginians.”

Jeffries was lauded by members of both parties this past year when a letter he wrote to Berkshire Hathaway Chairman Warren Buffett inviting him to visit West Virginia resulted in a major economic development deal.

Two Berkshire Hathaway subsidiaries, Precision Castparts Corp. and BHE Renewables, agreed to purchase from the state 2,000 acres in Jackson County, the site of a former aluminum plant. Precision Castparts Corp. plans to build a titanium melt facility that manufactures products for aerospace and other industries. The plant will be powered by BHE Renewables with a renewable energy microgrid that uses solar power and battery storage.

Jeffries is the owner and president of Cornerstone Interiors, a commercial interior finishing company. Before starting Cornerstone in 1997, he worked as a union carpenter.