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Iowa’s longest-serving Republican politician defects to Democrats because of Trump

Andy McKean has identified with the Republican Party for more than four decades

Chris Stevenson
Wednesday 24 April 2019 17:39 BST
Iowa's longest-serving Republican legislator leaves party because of Trump

Iowa’s longest serving Republican legislator has announced he will be defecting to the Democrats because of Donald Trump.

State Representative Andy McKean has identified with the Republican Party for nearly 50 years, but said that if the president’s actions and policies mark the “new normal” he wants “no part of it”.

Mr McKean, who has served in both Iowa’s Senate and House of Representatives, said that Mr Trump sets a “poor example,” particularly for children”.

“With the 2020 president election looming on the horizon, I feel as a Republican that I need to be able to support the standard bearer of our party”, Mr McKean said at a news conference announcing his decision. “Unfortunately, that is not something I am able to do.”

Mr McKean, who has served more than 25 years in Iowa's legislature, hit out at both Mr Trump’s constant angry tweets and his belittling of political and citizen opponents.

“He sets, in my opinion, a poor example for the nation and particularly for our children by personally insulting — often in a crude and juvenile fashion — those who disagree with him, being a bully at a time when we we are attempting to discourage bullying, his frequent disregard for the truth and his willingness to ridicule or marginalise people for their appearance, ethnicity or disability,” Mr McKean said.

He went on to criticise Mr Trump’s foreign policy and his frequent downplaying of the impact of climate change that America and nations around the world will face.

“I believe that it is just a matter of time before our party pays a heavy price for President Trump's reckless spending and shortsighted financial policies, his erratic, destabilizing foreign policy and his disregard for environmental concerns,” Mr McKean said.

The legislator said he returned to the Iowa House in 2017 after a long gap to find the parties further apart than ever. Mr McKean, whose district sits in two rural, blue-collar counties, said he he felt “increasingly uncomfortable” siding with the Republicans on a number of high-profile issues. Then the arrival of Mr Trump tipped him over the edge.

“If this is the new normal, I want no part of it,” Mr McKean said, saying that “unacceptable behaviour should be called out for what it is”.

“Americans of all parties should insist on something far better in the leader of their country and the free world,” he added.

The switch leaves the Democratic Party four seats away from taking control of the Iowa House of Representatives. Jeff Kaufmann, the chairman of the Iowa Republican Party, called Mr McKean’s move “a violation of trust” with Mr McKean having run for election on a Republican platform.

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“It’s disappointing that he felt the need to deceive Iowans,” Mr Kaufmann said.

With Iowa being so often being swing-state important for both parties to win on a national level, Mr McKean’s announcement gains weight as a sign of the split within the Republicans ahead of the presidential election in 2020.

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