CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- State Sen. Evan Jenkins, D-Cabell, announced today he is switching parties to seek the Republican nomination for the U.S. House seat currently held by Democrat Nick Rahall.
Jenkins made the announcement in Huntington.
Senate President Jeff Kessler announced late Tuesday he was stripping Jenkins of all leadership positions, saying Jenkins had failed to dispel rumors he planned to switch parties and run.
"Refusing to dispel rumors that he is switching to the Republican Party in order to possibly run for Congress shows that he has no allegiance to his democratic colleagues or the constituents that elected him," Kessler said in a statement.
"I do not want anyone on my leadership team or in a leadership position that does not show decisiveness or loyalty."
Jenkins was serving as chairman of the Minority Affairs and Pensions committees and was vice chairman of Health and Human Resources.
Kessler said he would name a replacement at a later date.
In two separate earlier interviews with the Daily Mail, Jenkins said he had made no decision about his future.
"No decision has been made on what I may or may not do," Jenkins said. "So it's probably best to not rule anything in or out, and make a decision and announce that decision on what and how I feel I can be . . . of greatest service," he said.
Jenkins, 54, is a trained lawyer and works as the executive director of the West Virginia Medical Association. He originally joined the House of Delegates in 1994 before making an unsuccessful bid for the state Supreme Court in 2000.