MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — It’s up or out for a Berkeley County delegate who announced a bid for the state Senate this week.

Delegate Mike Folk, R-Berkeley, said during Panhandle Live he would probably have made the announcement that he planned to challenge incumbent Democrat Sen. John Unger in the 16th Senatorial District last spring following the legislative session, but held off due to concerns about his mother’s health.

“With my mom being sick at the time we held off,” Folk said on Panhandle Live Wednesday. “The three options for me were basically not run for reelection at all, run for the House or run for the Senate. We decided to run for the Senate.”

Delegate Mike Folk, R-Berkeley

Folk said he made the decision after his mother passed away in October, citing unfinished business in Charleston, especially when it comes to higher education.

Folk spoke at length about the Higher Education Policy Commission, which he said should be eliminated.

“I don’t think it needs to be done overnight, but there needs to be a three-to-five year phaseout of some of these organizations, and HEPC is one of them. It would save us a lot of money.”

Folk described himself as a fiscal conservative with a core set of principles based on the U.S. Constitution, adding he veers away from labels.

After public clashes with Gov. Jim Justice and Republican leaders last year, Folk has gained a reputation for not playing well with others but Folk said speaking his mind and adhering to his principles has helped him politically.

“I’ve never been a party guy,” he said. “If my party’s wrong on a principle or fact I’ll call them out too.”

He said he’s seen a lot of bipartisan support over the years.

Attorney Steve Redding had planned to run for the Republican nomination but will instead seek a nomination to the 23rd Judicial Circuit leaving Folk unopposed at this point.

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