Charleston Mayor Danny Jones, who has been a Republican for 45 years and has been elected mayor four times as a Republican, has left the party. Jones announced Friday that he has switched his party registration to "unaffiliated." He pointed to multiple factors, specifically the social conservative bent of the West Virginia House of Delegates and the rise of Donald Trump as the party's presidential nominee.
Two weeks ago, an Iowa state senator who's had a lengthy career in public service as a Republican announced he just couldn't take it anymore: citing Donald Trump as a contributing factor, the lawmaker quit the GOP and changed his voter registration to "no party."
A few days later, the Republican mayor of Hackensack, New Jersey, announced he too is giving up on the GOP, and he was joined by his deputy mayor. Both mentioned Trump in their statements and both switched their registration to "independent."
Over the weekend, the Charleston Gazette-Mail in West Virginia reported on another joining the club.
In addition to his opposition to Trump's candidacy, Jones noted the "obsession" among West Virginia Republicans to allow private-sector discrimination again LGBT Americans as one of the reasons he's walking away from the party.
Jones, the mayor of West Virginia's largest city, added, "I plan to complete my current term, and have no plans to run for any office ever again. I am not trying to pick a fight with anyone."
It's important, of course, not to overstate matters based on a handful of examples. Four local officials do not necessarily a trend make.
But every time I read about someone like Danny Jones, I wonder how many other Danny Joneses there are out there: Americans who've long considered themselves Republicans, who remember what the GOP was like before its radicalization, and who may be tempted to give up on the party in light of Trump's nomination and antics.
It's just not common for elected officials to abandon their party in an election year. The fact that these folks have abandoned the GOP this year probably isn't a good sign.