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Veteran Iowa Lawmaker Leaves GOP for Dems, Citing Disdain for Trump

Andy McKean
Andy McKean

State Rep. Andy McKean said Donald Trump's behavior and the party's rightward drift are unacceptable to him.

A longtime Republican legislator in Iowa has switched to the Democratic Party, partly due to his disdain for Donald Trump.

"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," Rep. Andy McKean said at a Tuesday news conference at the Iowa Capitol, The Des Moines Register reports. "Unfortunately, that's something I'm unable to do."

McKean, from the town of Anamosa in eastern Iowa, is the longest-serving Republican in the state legislature. He served in the House from 1979 to 1992 and in the Senate from 1993 to 2003, and he was elected to the House again in 2016.

He said he wants no part of Trump's style of politics. "Unacceptable behavior should be called out for what it is, and Americans of all parties should insist on something far better in the leader of their country and the free world," he said.

A 69-year-old retired attorney, McKean said there were many moderate Republicans in the legislature when he first joined, but now "the party has veered very sharply to the right."

Republicans still have a majority -- 53 seats -- in the 100-member House, but that's down from 59 in the previous session, as several GOPers either retired or lost their reelection races. Republicans also control the Senate, and Gov. Kim Reynolds is a member of the party. But McKean's move is a positive sign for the Democrats as they seek to win the House in 2020, the Register notes.

"Representative McKean didn't leave the Republican Party. The Republican Party left him -- and their loss is our gain," Jessica Post, executive director of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, told the paper. "We're going to have his back in 2020 -- and with this seat in Democratic control, the path to taking back the Iowa House is clear."

Several other Republicans around the nation have left the party because of their objections to Trump and/or the GOP's general rightward move. They include Brian Maienschein, a member of the California Assembly; California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye; and Barbara Bollier, a state senator in Kansas, who cited the Republicans' anti-transgender ideology as one of the main reasons she left the GOP and became a Democrat.

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