BECKLEY, WV (WVNS) — Mick Bates was elected to the West Virginia House of Delegates in 2014 as a Democrat. He has retained his seat since then, winning elections with a “D” next to his name.
But on Wednesday, May 12, 2021, he announced a change in political parties.
“It’s something that’s been on my mind for probably over six months. I just got tired of justifying the D after my name,” Bates said.
Bates will end his term in the House of Delegates as a Republican.
“After going through the last legislative session and seeing how long states have moved in and what is happening nationally, I think the best way for me to represent the interests of the people I represent, in Beckley, Raleigh County and in the southern part of the state, is to do so as a Republican,” Bates explained.
Since his announcement, Bates has received a lot of criticism from the community and other politicians. House Minority Leader Doug Skaff said in a statement: ‘Delegate Bates had to decide that the time was right for him to turn his back on the voters who elected him to prioritize his future political ambitions.”
Bates told him it was just a one-letter change next to his name, and did not change how he planned to move the legislation forward.
“I am the same person, as far as the letter next to my name is concerned. I have a reputation as a business-minded conservative Democrat and I’m still like a Republican,” Bates said.
He said he hoped to pursue his plans for the remainder of his term, plans he made as a Democrat, and that he would carry them through as a Republican.
“Fix the internet, make sure that federal money is spent appropriately and spent here, and spent on really meaningful things that make a difference and so it’s not wasted. Develop a redistricting plan that reconstitutes Raleigh County. And to develop a real coalfield comeback plan,” Bates said.