CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A West Virginia Wesleyan political science professor says party switching is the exception, not the rule, in the Mountain State.

“We treat political party affiliation like religion,” said Robert Rupp of voter identification among West Virginians.  “It happens, but it’s a rare occurrence.”

Last week, Cabell County State Senator Evan Jenkins changed his party affiliation from Democrat to Republican and immediately announced his plans to run for Congress in West Virginia’s Third District next year.

He will potentially challenge Third District Congressman Nick Rahall in the 2014 General Election.

In 2010, Rahall defeated another Democrat turned Republican in Spike Maynard, a former state Supreme Court Justice.

Other West Virginia politicians who have switched parties in the past include Jay Rockefeller, who left the Republican Party for the Democratic Party when he ran for the House of Delegates in 1966, and U.S. Senator Rush Holt, Sr., who was first elected as a Democrat and then became a Republican.

Current state Supreme Court Justice Allen Loughry went from Independent to Republican in 2011.

“We have a tradition, both in the nation and in West Virginia of switchers, but, again, they’re the exception,” said Rupp.

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  • Tim Clifford

    The professor needs to come to Nicholas County. Appox. 300 Democrats a year change to either Republican or Independent, thanks to the Democrats war on coal. I know because I re-register most of them. And as for Jenkins, we have enough RINO's as it is. RINO's and moderates are the problem with the Republican Party.

  • Joe

    You are so right butch. Nick joe will bring him back down to earth. Jenkins for Jenkins! How's that for a billboard

  • Butch

    Rumor is Jenkins has told people, 'I wouldn't have done it if the numbers weren't there.'

    He is so corrupt, he doesn't even realize he is ADMITTING it is not about any belief system. It is ONLY about opportunity. He's proud of that fact.


  • Brad

    Jenkins was just returning to his original party and has always been conservative; it's not like he has changed his ideology. Moreover, as he says, the Democrat party has moved so far to the left that it is the entity that has changed, and abandoned its members. I didn't hear those on the left whining about it when Jay Rockefeller switched to Republican (and became a carpetbagger in WV) or Richie Robb switching, or any of the others. Jenkins is going to defeat Rahole!

  • Whydoireadthisgarbage

    Lets see.....first he was a republican........then he was a he's a republican again.

    Sounds to me Iike "it's all about what's good for Evan" not the people he is supposed to be representing.

    What an opportunist.....or should I say.....vulture?

  • C. F. T.

    Although only ordinary citizens, my wife and I switched from Dem. to Rep. following last year Democrat National convention where God was denied.