Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump waves following a campaign rally in Toledo, Ohio, July 27, 2016. 
Photo by Carlo Allegri/Reuters

Longtime state lawmaker quits the GOP, joins Democrats

Updated

About three months ago, as his government shutdown dragged on, Donald Trump pretended that the whole fiasco was working out well for him and his party. Indeed, the president was convinced that the public was blaming Democrats for his own failed scheme.

“What’s going on in that party is shocking,” Trump said, referring to his Democratic opposition. “I know many people that were Democrats and they’re switching over right now, and they’re switching over quickly.”

As we discussed at the time, whenever Trump points to unnamed “many people” he claims to know as anecdotal evidence, it’s generally a safe bet that he’s is sharing made-up nonsense. But even putting that aside, it’s of interest that the only officials switching parties lately seem to be leaving the president’s GOP behind. The Des Moines Register reported yesterday:

The longest-serving Republican in the Iowa Legislature said he’s leaving the party, in part because of his disapproval with President Donald Trump.

Rep. Andy McKean, who represents Anamosa in the state House of Representatives, announced Tuesday that he plans to register as a Democrat and vote with the minority caucus…. “I think the party has veered very sharply to the right,” McKean said. “That concerns me.”

The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee said in a written statement, “Representative McKean didn’t leave the Republican Party. The Republican Party left him.”

The party-switch doesn’t change the balance of power in the Iowa state House, though the GOP majority is now down to 53 seats in the 100-member chamber.

But it’s the larger pattern that seems especially noteworthy. Andy McKean’s announcement in Iowa comes on the heels of a longtime Republican state senator in New Jersey also making the switch from the GOP to Democrats, insisting the Republican Party at the national level “has lost its way.”

As regular readers may recall, that news came a week after a state lawmaker in California made the same switch from Republican to Democrat. A month earlier, Tani Cantil-Sakauye, the chief justice of the California Supreme Court, also gave up on the Republican Party.

Meanwhile, late last year in Kansas, a trio of elected Republican lawmakers switched parties, officially ending their GOP associations. A fourth soon followed.

And there’s Hawaii, where former Rep. Charles Djou announced last year that he’s no longer a member of the Republican Party. His announcement came almost exactly a year after state Rep. Beth Fukumoto, once considered a rising star in the Hawaii GOP, became a Democrat.

When Trump boasted that “many people” are “quickly” switching parties “right now,” perhaps he was confused about the partisan direction?

* Update: The Washington Post had a related piece on this today that’s worth checking out.