Caputo reflects on the Jefferies defection, decline of the state Democrat party

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – After the defection of state senator Glenn Jefferies (R-Putnam, 18) to the Republican party state senator Mike Caputo (D-Marion, 13) is one of three remaining Democrats in the state senate.

“I don’t know what he did because I think you have to be honest with your constituents and you have to be honest with yourself and I don’t think Glenn has done that,” Caputo said. “I mean, he was elected as a Democrat and he served as a Democrat.”

On MetroNews “Talkline,” Caputo said he believes the decline of the Democrat party in the state began during the Obama administration. Caputo said Republicans were able to take national issues and make them stick on statewide candidates.

“They made us look like we’re anti-coal and anti-job and it worked quite frankly,” Caputo said. ” The people of West Virginia unfortunately have believed that and, I think it’s hogwash.”

Caputo has served at the state level in the Democrat party since 1998 and said campaigns have changed vastly. Jefferies was first elected to the state senate in 2016 with a win over incumbent Chris Walters. Caputo rejected the idea that Jefferies will be able to accomplish more by crossing parties to be a part of the majority.

“One of 34, a newcomer on the back bench and you’re going to have that much influence, no you won’t,” Caputo said. “They’re going to throw you a couple bones and say thank you because you switched, but at the end of the day it’s all about getting reelected and nobody will convince me otherwise.”

Caputo has watched the once dominant Democrat party wilt over time, but he compared his situation to the Republican party years ago. He cited the convictions of Charlie Trump, Craig Blair, and Mitch Carmichael who remained Republicans while the Democrats maintained political control.

“But, you know what they never did when they were in super minorities? They never left they stood there and fought for their beliefs,” Caputo said. “That’s why I respect them so much. They stood there and fought for their beliefs even when they knew they were outnumbered.”

Caputo speculated Jefferies made the move to preserve his reelection chances in 2024. As of Nov. of 2022, about 32 percent of registered voters are Democrats compared to Republicans at nearly 40 percent.

“I think it’s a matter of self-preservation,” Caputo said. ” How bad do you want to win an election? Do you want to sell your soul and everything you believe in to switch parties just so you can be reelected? That’s not me.”