Ryan Ferns, a Democrat representing Ohio County in the West Virginia House of Delegates, did something Tuesday that would have been considered shocking just a few years ago. He voted for a Republican, Delegate Tim Armstead of Kanawha County, for speaker of the House.
Ferns was the only Democrat not to vote for his party's candidate, Delegate Tim Miley of Harrison County. Miley won the speakership.
In a "tweet" sent from the House chamber, Ferns explained his vote. "West Virginia first. Party second," he said.
That will make Ferns exceedingly unpopular among many of the Democrats who still control the House. And his vote was symbolic; Ferns had to have known Miley would win.
What Ferns did took courage - yet it also demonstrated leadership. For West Virginia to move forward, Democrats and Republicans will have to work together. For taking a step in that direction - voting for bipartisanship instead of merely talking about it - Ferns is to be commended.