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Clarksburg Councilwoman to Switch Parties, Run for House

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The West Virginia Republican Party is hoping a rising Republican tide carries them through the next election cycle.

Long-time Clarksburg City Councilwoman and former mayor Margaret Bailey has scheduled a press conference at the Harrison County Courthouse for Thursday morning where she will change her party affiliation from Democrat to Republican and will run for the 48th District of the House of Delegates.

In July, long-time Sen. Evan Jenkins, R-Cabell, made the same party switch and announced he would run for Congress, spurring observations that a paradigm shift was evident in West Virginia.

Charleston pollster Mark Blankenship said at the time, Republican momentum has been building in West Virginia for several election cycles.

"What I would says is that once the Republican momentum is realized, the party switching for these conservative Democrats follows," Blankenship said in July.

It's something national press is noticing, most recently in a Washington Post article.

"I was proud to join the West Virginia Republican Party in July," Jenkins said this week. "Barack Obama's presidency has made clear that the Democratic Party does not represent the values and principles West Virginians deserve.

"The GOP is the conservative party, and that's good for families, good for our energy industries and pushing back hard against liberals in D.C. This is a conservative state."

The annual West Virginia Poll from Rex Repass that was unveiled at the annual West Virginia Business Summit at the end of August found that West Virginia was trending toward more conservatism, and most voters were frustrated and disgusted with the current political process. But his poll also found voters to be in favor of Democrats maintaining control of the West Virginia Legislature.

But West Virginia Republican Party Chairman Conrad Lucas recently sent an email blast to remind potential party-hoppers of the deadline.

"In order to be legally qualified to run for legislative offices as a Republican in 2014, any current Democrat must change their voter registration with their county clerk or the Secretary of State," Lucas said in the email. "The deadline to make this change is 60 days before the filing deadline for office of Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014.

That means you must have your registration changed to Republican by Nov. 26 of 2013 to legally be able to join our team to run for office."

Bailey was honored as Mayor of the Year in 2011. She's a former Veteran's Administration nurse, and resides in the Stealey neighborhood of Clarksburg. The mother and grandmother recently won her fourth term on council 2011, and is the longest-serving elected female official in city history.