Iowa Public Radio reports that Representative Andy McKean, who is the longest serving Republican in Iowa’s state legislature, is now joining the Democratic Party. In doing so, he refers to his discomfort with the Republican party’s position on several issues, including the party’s support for President Trump in the upcoming 2020 election.
McKean says Iowa’s state legislature has become increasingly partisan since his election in 1978. He also says the Republican party is different now.
“I think the party has veered very sharply to the right,” McKean said. “And that concerns me. It’s a bit further than I would care to be.”
McKean’s new alliance means that the Iowa House of Representatives now has 53 Republicans and 47 Democrats.
McKean explains that there was no one event that made him decide to switch parties. He says he is a political moderate, and his choice to move to the Democratic party happened gradually.
House Minority Leader Todd Prichard (D-Charles City) says McKean shares the Democrats’ goal of “moving the state forward.”
“He brings a lot of knowledge and experience to the role,” Prichard said. “And to have him on the team with the Democratic caucus is really a big thrill for us.”
House Speaker Linda Upmeyer (R-Clear Lake) says she respects McKean’s decision to change parties.
“This will not distract us from moving forward with the conservative agenda that Iowans have tasked us with,” Upmeyer said.
McKean also mentioned that he does not like what is happening politically at the national level.
“With the 2020 presidential election looming on the horizon, I feel, as a Republican, that I need to be able to support the standard bearer of our party,” McKean said. “Unfortunately that is something I’m unable to do.”
McKean has said he will likely run for re-election in 2020 as a Democrat.
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