Republicans are rejoicing as the largest legislative district in the nation just flipped from blue to red.
Arizona State Senator Carlyle Begay, a Navajo (who also call themselves Diné) whose district includes Navajo and Hopi tribal lands, announced Monday that he is switching to the Republican Party.
Begay, 34, was appointed to the Arizona Senate in 2013 as a Democrat and re-elected in 2014.
In a moving video, Begay describes his Native American roots and the desperate conditions and challenges his constituents face. “This is not how our distinguished ancestors saw our future,” he said. “Change must happen now.”
Praising the GOP for working with him to improve conditions for his constituents, Begay said that his decision “will not be popular for some.”
“I clearly see the Republican Party as a party of progress, the party of opportunity, and moving forward, my party,” the video concludes.
Begay told The Arizona Republic Monday that his crucial vote crossing party lines to pass the current-year budget was his “tipping point.” After that vote, state Democrats barred him from using caucus resources such as issuing news releases.
“I was being isolated because I was fighting for people to have a voice,” Begay said. Welcomed by U.S. senators John McCain and Jeff Flake and many of the state’s GOP leaders, he told reporters at a news conference, “I want to help the Republican Party build a bridge with those who need and want a chance with those who can provide that chance.”
Watch the video below.
With this up-and-coming young legislator’s addition, Republicans now control 18 of 30 seats in the Arizona upper chamber.
On Twitter, Begay received a hearty welcome.
— John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) November 23, 2015
— Doug Ducey (@dougducey) November 23, 2015
Even blue-staters sent their congratulations.
— JAB54 (@JABUSA54) November 23, 2015
Listening to Begay speak about building bridges and the less fortunate—those were always Democratic Party talking points—so what have the Democrats become?