West Virginia Delegate Emily Yeager describes herself as "100 percent a Democrat." That doesn't make her unique in the legislature, where Democrats hold a 3-to-1 margin in the state House. What is unusual is that back home in Welch, she serves on the city council as a Republican.
Yeager has long been interested in politics--her father also served as a state delegate. But she was surprised back in 1986 when an acquaintance who was planning to run for mayor as a Republican asked her to help fill out the GOP ticket by running for city council. It seems that for historical reasons, the Democrats have never erected a formal party structure in Welch, meaning that many folks who were Democrats registered to run as Republicans in local races.
After six years of service as a Republican, Yeager was appointed to fill a vacancy in the state House as a Democrat. The latter party is not only her true calling but still the party she was registered with at the county level. The West Virginia Senate recently moved legislation that would block any individual from taking bipartisanship to such an extreme.
It hardly matters to Yeager, since earlier this year Welch passed an ordinance that will eliminate city registration and turn the council into a nonpartisan entity. She will no longer be a Democrat in GOP clothing. "I hope I don't go to the penitentiary for what I've already done," Yeager says. "I don't think I will."