Del. Warren E. Barry (R-Fairfax), the House of Delegates minority whip who recently criticized the House GOP caucus for failing to be "more outspoken and critical of the majority party," said today he is thinking of switching to the Democratic Party.

In an interview, Barry said he "didn't set out to change parties," but that after what he called his "constructive criticism" of the Republican Party became known, others encouraged him to switch.

"All of a sudden a lot of Democrats were shaking my hand and saying, "welcome to the Democratic Party," Barry said today.

Barry said he made this criticism to a caucus of 17 House members the night before the General Assembly opened its session last month: "The party is not carrying out its mandate. Just because we are a minority party, we should not shrivel up and die. We should be more outspoken and critical of the majority party."

Although he declined to name them, Barry said Democratic leaders in the House and officials of the Democratic Party in Fairfax have approached him, offering to let him retain the seniority he has acquired during his eight years as a delegate if he joined their party.

"They said that if I did change I would be in line for the chairmanship of a committee," said Barry. "Then I would be in a better position to serve my constituents," he added.