CHARLESTON — Former state Sen. Mike Oliverio is the latest in a series of Democratic officeholders to switch parties.

Oliverio is seeking his former 13th District Senate seat, which he held as a Democrat. In 2010, he ran instead for the 1st Congressional District seat, upsetting incumbent Democrat Alan Mollohan in the primary, 56 to 44 percent, but narrowly losing in the general to Republican David McKinley, 50.4 percent to 49.6 percent — a difference of 1,440 votes among 179,880 cast.

Oliverio told The Dominion Post in January, “The political climate in West Virginia has changed a lot in the years I’ve been out, and I think my experience and expertise can be brought to the table to help with some pretty important decisions that will have to be made in the next several years.

“I’m the same guy,” he said. “In the past, I was referred to as a conservative Democrat, so I’m going to be the same person. I just think I can best represent my constituents if I’m part of that majority party.”

Senate President Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson, said, “It highlights the fact that the people within West Virginia feel more of an allegiance or more of an affiliation with a party that respects the values of our citizens, that’s fiscally responsible, socially conservative and promotes the values that are inherent within the West Virginia culture.

“There’s also a recognition,” he said, “that the Republican Party is pointing the state in the right direction in terms of our economy, our goals, our aspirations, our education system.

“And so I welcome him to our party. I welcome all people to evaluate their party affiliations and to go where their heart is rather than where their parents might have been or a generational aspect.”