The Last Straw: Texas Judge Quits GOP Over Shutdown
In a surprising reelection video published online this week (embedded below), a Republican judge in Texas ripped into his party's behavior and cited the government shutdown as his last straw, declaring his intent to seek office in the next term as a Democrat.
Echoing the words of President Ronald Reagan, Bexar County Court-at-law No. 11 Judge Carlo Key explained that in his view, "I have not left the Republican Party. It left me."
He went on, saying: "I cannot tolerate a political party that demeans Texans based on their sexual orientation, the color of their skin or their economic status. I will not be a member of a party in which hate speech elevates candidates for higher office rather than disqualifying them. I cannot place my name on the ballot for a political party that is proud to destroy the lives of hundreds of thousands of federal workers over the vain attempt to repeal a law that would provide health care to millions of people throughout our country."
His party affiliation switch was announced during a media event on Monday, featuring an array of prominent Texas Democrats and the state party's chairman.
Appearing on MSNBC with host Al Sharpton on Tuesday night (embedded below), he expanded on the reasons why he's making the switch. "Ultimately, it's a culmination of things," Key said. "Things have progressively gotten more extreme [in the GOP]. For me, personally, it was time. Things have begun to happen both locally and nationally, as we've seen. And so for me, it was time to make the decision."
Although conventional wisdom dictates that Texas is redder-than-red, Bexar County voted for President Barack Obama over former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney by a narrow margin. It is also home to San Antonio, led by Mayor Julian Castro, widely thought to be one of the Democratic Party's rising Latino stars.
In that context, switching parties ahead of the 2014 statewide elections may be smart politicking -- especially considering how strong state Senator Wendy Davis is looking right now, polling within single digits of likely Republican gubernatorial nominee Greg Abbott.
Even so, Democrats have not won a single statewide race in Texas since 1994, and despite assurances from pollsters that the state's demographics make a liberal turnabout all but certain in the coming years, the party's get-out-the-vote infrastructure is sorely lacking.
Republicans also have the added benefit of a vote-blocking photo ID law (PDF), which experts at The Brennan Center say (PDF) drives down turnout among the elderly, minorities, students and low-income communities who are less likely to have currently-valid photo IDs.
In other words, the proof is in the pudding, and there's no pudding for Texas Democrats just yet. Still, it's nice to see that a rational Republican came around and admitted his disgust in public, even if his decision might be motivated by self preservation.
This video was published to YouTube on Oct. 20, 2013.
This video is from MSNBC's "Politics Nation," aired Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2013.
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