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Jenkins' switch could signal decline in one-party dominance

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Evan Jenkins' decision to switch from Democrat to Republican and challenge long-time Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., for his seat in the House of Representatives is intriguing for a number of reasons. Jenkins, who has shuttled back and forth between the parties before, had established himself as one of the strong voices of the state Democratic Party. A state senator and veteran of the West Virginia Legislature, Jenkins was beginning to exert quite a bit of influence among his peers at the Capitol. That's one reason why his switch was shocking. Whispers and rumblings of a move had been swirling, but to actually see a Democrat with so much potential within the party change political stripes and realistically think he could unseat one of the state's political icons is truly amazing.

But Jenkins has gone all in, and we're hoping for a spirited, dynamic contest. Already, the sniping has started. Rahall said in a statement that Jenkins' "new found political bosses in Washington have promised him the world." In what can only be called a terrible bit of poetry, State Democratic Party Chairman Larry Puccio proclaimed "When Washington Republican Money came a-knockin', Jenkins went a-walkin'." Twitter-worthy, perhaps, but so-called out-of-state money (a seemingly pejorative term deployed by both parties) is only one part of a larger issue.

Mark Blankenship, one of the state's most respected political observers, told The State Journal's reporter Ann Ali that Jenkins' move could signify a larger paradigm shift.

"In West Virginia the Republican momentum has been building for several election cycles, and there are reasons for that," Blankenship said. "What I would say is that once the Republican momentum is realized, the party switching for these conservative Democrats follows."

We can't help but this see this flowering of bold moves as a positive for our state. We need to inject some serious and real completion into our political dynamic. When one party has total power, it creates a situation where it has zero accountability. Take one look at the machinations and kowtowing in the House of Delegates over the last few years. That body, long-controlled by Democrats, has too often put the special interests and their own selfish ambitious above the needs of the people for far too long. They feel so cavalier because they have no competition.

Thankfully, it looks like this sad era is coming to an end. Voters are becoming empowered and those who are in power need to understand that a better West Virginia is on the horizon, whether they want it or not.