Andy McKean has spent 26 years in Iowa’s state legislature, sitting as a Republican as he has represented the people of Jackson and Jones counties.
That changed Tuesday as McKean, the state legislature’s longest-serving Republican, announced plans to leave the party and join the Democrats, putting them four seats closer to control of the House of Representatives, according to a news release from the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee.
One reason he’s leaving the party? U.S. President Donald J. Trump.
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McKean, who was first elected to the legislature in 1978, served there as both a state representative and a senator up until 2003.
He then returned to the House as a representative for District 58 in 2016, the same year Trump was elected president.
In a statement, McKean said he might have stayed with the Republicans were it not for Trump.
“I might have limped along attempting to work within my caucus for what I felt was best for the people I represent if it hadn’t been for another factor,” he said in the statement.
“I believe that is just a matter of time before our country pays a heavy price for President Trump’s reckless spending and short-sighted financial policies, his erratic, destabilizing foreign policy, and his disregard for environmental concerns.”
McKean expounded on his concerns about Trump in a news conference that was reported by CNN.
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“He sets, in my opinion, a poor example for the nation and particularly for our children,” McKean said.
The president does this “by personally insulting — often in a crude and juvenile fashion — those who disagree with him, being a bully at a time when we are attempting to discourage bullying, his frequent disregard for the truth and his willingness to ridicule or marginalize people for their appearance, ethnicity or disability,” he added.
McKean’s decision to join the Democrats puts the party four seats away from a majority, ahead of the 2020 election.
State Republicans had mixed feelings about McKean’s departure.
House Speaker Linda Upmeyer respected his decision, saying, “this will not distract us from moving forward with the conservative agenda that Iowans have tasked us with,” as reported by the Des Moines Register.
Meanwhile, Republican Party of Iowa chair Jeff Kaufmann said McKean made a commitment to his district when he ran five months ago.
“Today, he has violated the trust of the voters in his district,” Kaufmann said.
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