Rep. Andy McKean announced he was switching parties during a press conference on Tuesday in which he called the president a “poor example for the nation.”
McKean is the longest-serving Republican in Iowa’s state legislature, according to the Gazette.
“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,” McKean said, according to the Iowa Standard. “Unfortunately, that’s something I’m unable to do.”
McKean described himself as a moderate, which he says is increasingly rare in the GOP.
“I think the party has veered very sharply to the right,” McKean said. “That concerns me.”
McKean also criticized Trump’s financial policies, his “erratic, destabilizing” foreign policy and his inaction on environmental issues as reasons for his departure. He also highlighted Trump’s offensive rhetoric, calling the president a “bully.”
“Furthermore, [Trump] 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’re attempting to discourage bullying, his frequent disregard for the truth, and his willingness to ridicule or marginalize people for their appearance, ethnicity or disability,” the representative said.
McKean said he will register as a Democrat and will vote along Democratic Party lines in the meantime. Republicans will still hold the majority in the state House 53-47 without McKean.
Jeff Kaufmann, the chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa, called McKean’s party swap a violation of the trust of those who voted him into office.
“When Rep. McKean ran in 2016, he had no problem riding to victory on Pres. Trump’s coattails,” Kaufmann tweeted.
“When he was running for office a mere five months ago, he made a commitment to the voters of District 58, running on the Republican platform,” he said. “Today, he has violated the trust of the voters of his district.”
Iowa House Minority Leader Todd Prichard was with McKean at the press conference when the lawmaker announced his plans to register as a Democrat.
“The Democratic Party is a big tent, it’s got a wide range of views and ideas,” Prichard said, according to the Des Moines Register. “We’re pleased to have Andy’s experience and ideas as part of our discussion when we go to caucus.”