WHEELING, W.Va. — The West Virginia Republican Party grew by one on Monday when state Delegate Ryan Ferns from Ohio County changed his party affiliation from Democrat to Republican and launched a campaign for the state Senate in the First District.

West Virginia Legislative Photography

Del. Ryan Ferns from Ohio County is now a Republican.

“I’ve just reached a point where I think that, for the betterment of West Virginia and my district, I think the Republican Party’s views are what’s best for the state, at this point,” said Ferns on Monday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”

He officially announced his plans on Monday morning in Wheeling and, later in the day, did the same in Charleston.

“For the past three years, I’ve served in the House of Delegates as a Democrat and I’ve tried to work across party lines with my Republican colleagues and, each time that I’ve done that, I’ve been met with opposition and push back from members of the leadership and Democratic Party,” said Ferns who has been a member of the House since 2010.

As for his constituents who elected him as a Democrat, “I’ve alway told them, regardless of party lines, I’m always going to do what I think is right for my district and for my state,” said Ferns.

House Speaker Tim Miley (D-48) said Monday he was “somewhat (though not totally) surprised” at the decision from Ferns.  He claimed Ferns denied plans to change parties, as recently as a few weeks ago, when asked about the possibility directly.

“Obviously, I’m disappointed in Delegate Ferns’ decision, but in politics, some people say one thing and do another.  Delegate Ferns has now done this on multiple occasions,” said Miley in a statement.

“I am left to wonder whether he is now taking this step in order to cash in on the promise of campaign funding that the Republican Party has made to many Democrats.  In a day and age when there are fewer and fewer principled people in politics, I guess I should not be surprised,” Miley continued.

“Nonetheless, I wish him well and hope that he is sincere in his support of our efforts in helping small business and entrepreneurs flourish in West Virginia.”

Ferns was the only Democrat to vote against Miley when he was chosen to be the Speaker of the state House of Delegates earlier this year.  At that time, Ferns said it was a protest vote to draw attention to bullying within House ranks and had nothing to do with Miley personally.

“I have the utmost respect for Tim and, the years that I’ve worked with him, I’ve found him to be a very reasonable, approachable person,” Ferns said back in June.

Conrad Lucas, the chairman of the state Republican Party, welcomed Ferns to the GOP in a statement.  “Delegate Ferns had the courage to stand up for the Ohio Valley in Charleston and the independence to take tough stands regardless of party or issue,” said Lucas.

He continued, “West Virginia is in trouble thanks to liberals in Washington and those who do their bidding in Charleston.  Men like Delegate Ferns rise to join us and defend this state’s jobs, families and future from (President Barack) Obama.”

Ferns, who is part of a physical therapy business in Wheeling, said he first ran for the House three years ago to help small business owners like himself.  He said his campaign for the Senate, one that could pit him against Ohio County Senator Rocky Fitzsimmons (D-1), will be based on the same motivating factors.

“There was no one lined up, in this First Senate District, with the conservative values that I think are important for West Virginia,” said Ferns.  “I’ve always said I will step up wherever I’m needed and, at this time, I think this is where I’m most needed.”

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  • gary lilly

    Glad to have you as a part of our party Ryan.Hold to our conservative values above all others.

    Gary Lilly
    Fayette County

  • Chef Camille

    Interesting that he is taking on the Fitzsimmons Machine. Boss Tweed and his liberal trial attorney's will have a field day Fern's. Fitz controls all aspects of the Ohio County Democratic Party.

  • C. F. T.

    1. The George Sorus, Obama and Clinton controlled Democrat Party is not the Democrat Party of a few years ago. Today the Democrat Party stands for Liberalism, Socialism and denounces God. Thank you Del. Ferns for your courage, principals and backbone.
    2. No one is above the Law and an DUI charge is inexcusable as Del. Ferns and anyone else so charged are endangering other people lives. For those who smear Del. Ferns over the DUI are there mistakes in your judgement we all need to know about?

  • retiree!!!!

    I see some senator seats turning red in the future!!!

  • angry white guy

    I dont care what any of you racist liberals say....this kid did the right thing and has my vote. GO RYAN FERNS!!!!!

  • Wowbagger

    Gee, to read these comments one would think that Democrats like former Delegate Alex Shook of Monongalia County for example don't ever get boozed up and say drive the wrong way up a one way street during the regular legislative session more than likely tanked up at a dinner paid for by some lobbiest.

    Democrats have controlled West Virginia since 1932 and WV now vies for LAST place by most measures. Just maybe it's time for a more politically balanced approach.

  • Dad2two

    Why did he not just stay in a safe seat in the House? He knows that it's an uphill climb for republicans to take the House. He knows he's toast staying with the democrats since a few have already made known they will run against him. He figures that the only way to stay in the headlines is to try to unseat Fitzsimmons. Yeh, good luck with that. Ferns is obviously drinking again. I hope that they didn't let him drive himself home today from the press conference.

  • mike dineen

    Nice to see he is going after the angry white male vote. Have fun with the tea party

  • John weaver

    Republicans will do anything to gain power. Their lust is unparalleled. The only problem with their lust for power is there is so little power In West Virginia to lust for. Another republican misstep and in a country so desperately in need of real, thoughtful, non- partisan leadership.

  • NotARepublican

    Wasn't this that young punk that got busted for a DUI ? hahaha The GOP can have him!!! Maybe he was drunk when he signed his papers switching from Dem to Repub... haha

  • wvu999

    This is laughable. Ryan works for Ryan. He was too embarrassed to serve his constituents after his DUI. After missing seeing his name in the paper he had to run again. Then he knew he would make news by being the only "dem" that didnt vote for Tim. Now the flavor of the week is to be anti Obama in this state so he switch to republican. I hope the voters of the northern panhandle send Ryan back to his physical therapy center......yeah.....named after him. Ryan Ferns loves him some Ryan Ferns.

    Keep talking about him so he feels better about himself.