CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The split between Democrats and Republicans in the state House of Delegates got a little closer this week when Ohio County Delegate Ryan Ferns (R-3) changed his party affiliation from Democrat to Republican and launched a campaign for state Senate.

That means the House numbers will stand at 53-47, with Democrats still in charge, when the 2014 Regular Legislative Session begins on Jan. 8.

House Speaker Tim Miley (D-48) said, much of the time, those numbers do not really matter.

“Most bills that we pass, down in the House of Delegates, get overwhelming bipartisan support.  Are there a handful of bills that break down largely along party lines?  Yes, but very few and, even on those bills, some Democrats vote with Republicans, some Republicans vote with Democrats,” he said.

Republicans have made gains in the House in recent years and party leaders have said their goal is to take control of that chamber as early as next year or in 2016, but Democratic leaders are working to keep that from happening.

Democrats have a much stronger hold on the state Senate, 24-10.

Miley said he was aware Mercer County Senator Bill Cole (R-6) met with Ferns, as recently as last week, as part of his larger Republican recruitment efforts focused on the Senate.  Ferns will run next year in the First Senatorial District.

“Both sides recruit what they believe to be good candidates to run for office in their respective bodies and Sen. Cole is doing that on the Senate side.  We’re doing that on the House side, as are Republicans on the House side,” said Miley who was a guest on Tuesday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”

The 2014 Primary Election in West Virginia is Tuesday, May 13.

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