Del. Doug Skaff, D-Kanawha, will step down from his position as minority leader of the West Virginia House of Delegates. (Will Price | West Virginia Legislative Photography)
Kanawha County Democrat Doug Skaff is stepping down as minority leader of the state House of Delegates, he announced Wednesday morning. Skaff will step down at the end of this month’s legislative interim meetings on Tuesday, Aug. 6.
Reached Wednesday afternoon, Skaff denied rumors that he plans to switch his party registration to Republican and run for a statewide office. He said as a conservative Democrat, he’s often the subject of such rumors.
“Anytime I step out and do my own thing or vote maybe against a majority of the Democratic members or vote more conservative, I’ve been hearing that now for the last 12 years,” Skaff said. “It’s flattering that people have thrown my name out there to possibly run for another office. My name has always been tossed out there switching parties just because I lean more conservative, more moderate. I’ve always been that way.”
Skaff said he’ll take a few weeks to decide his political future. One possibility is to continue serving as a member of the House of Delegates. Another is to step down from office altogether and focus on his role as president of HD Media, a newspaper chain that includes the Charleston Gazette-Mail and Huntington Herald-Dispatch.
“Part of me and Doug Reynolds would probably prefer me just to step down altogether, and that’s a possibility too,” Skaff said. “Just resigning, fulfilling my duty here in the interims, through special session, and possibly stepping down and just focusing on the newspapers right now and running the businesses.”
Skaff is also vice president of his family’s business, Skaff Family Limited Company, and owner and managing partner of Building & Remodeling Warehouse in Nitro.
Skaff previously served in the House from 2009-2014. He was elected in 2018 and reelected in 2022. He is one of only 11 Democrats in the 100-member state House of Delegates. Of the 34 members of the state Senate, there are three Democrats and 31 Republicans.
Skaff said serving as a Democrat with a Republican supermajority in power has been frustrating. Skaff served when Democrats were in the majority.
“I was there when we had 80 Democrats, when you could get your bills in front of committees and get your stuff passed. You could pretty much control the agendas and set forth good legislation,” he said. “And it’s hard being in a super minority, when things just fly through. So yeah, has it gotten tougher through the years? Absolutely, it’s tougher.
“You work so hard, and you’re there putting all these long hours at the end of the day, it’s frustrating when sometimes things fall on deaf ears,” he said.
State Democratic party Chairman Mike Pushkin (D-Kanawha) said he appreciates that Skaff talked about his decision with members of the House Democratic caucus before making the announcement.
“By doing that, he allows us the time to make a smooth transition to a new minority leader to take his place,” Pushkin said.
House of Delegates Minority Leader Pro Temp Sean Hornbuckle, D-Cabell, will assume the role of minority leader after the August interim meetings, according to the news release.
“Sean is a strong leader, delegate and friend,” Skaff said. “I know that he will lead the caucus well.”
Pushkin and Senate Minority Leader Mike Woelfel (D-Cabell) echoed Skaff’s support for Hornbuckle.
“I can think of no better incoming Leader than Del. Sean Hornbuckle,” Woelfel said. “I have known Delegate Hornbuckle for many years. He is a pillar in our community and a man of integrity. Sean’s acumen, character, and work ethic are superb. He is bold in action but also pragmatic. His service on behalf of the citizens of Cabell County absolutely merits his elevation to this leadership position. I look forward to our continued partnership as colleagues and now as party leaders in the state house.”
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