Some Kansas lawmakers who were elected to office as Republicans have announced they will switch their party affiliation and register as Democrats.
Sen. Dinah Sykes and Rep. Stephanie Clayton made their announcements via Facebook posts, after voters had already made their decisions, joining Sen. Barbara Bollier who also left the Republican Party earlier this month, according to The Wichita Eagle.
As the House reconvenes next month, Clayton – a lifelong Republican – will be returning to serve her constituents as a Democrat, presumably without asking their permission.
“I first ran for office in 2010, when my daughter was in first grade, because of the lack of stable funding for public education,” Clayton, who has served in the Kansas Legislature for the 19th District since 2013, said in a Facebook post where she made her announcement.
“Leaders in the Kansas House and Senate have now indicated that they will seek to scrap the bipartisan education plan achieved over the last two years, just as we are so close to solving this problem and ending the cycle of school litigation,” she wrote. “My Republican Party, then, seems to no longer represent or serve the interests of the 19th District, Johnson County, or the State of Kansas.”
Sykes, in a statement on Facebook as well, announced that she believed she could better serve the state and her constituents as a Democrat.
“I am a moderate person who represents a moderate and pragmatic district that expects me to focus on issues and solutions that impact their day-to-day lives. Increasingly, I see the Republican party focusing on issues and approaches that divide our country. I do not agree with that approach,” Sykes said.
“At this time, I feel like I can either fight to change the Republican party or fight for the state I love and the people I serve,” she wrote. “I think I can better serve my state and constituents as a member of the Democratic party.”
Outgoing state Rep. Joy Koesten, also a Republican, was also reportedly flipping parties and becoming a Democrat, according to The Associated Press.
Representing Mission Hills in the Kansas City area, State Sen. Barbara Bollier abandoned the party and those who voted her into office on Dec. 12. The lawmakers all hail from Johnson County, traditionally a Republican stronghold, according to The Wichita Eagle.
Republican state House Speaker Ron Ryckman denounced the move by Clayton just weeks after the election.
“While this certainly raises questions about a lack of transparency, this is a decision ultimately between Rep. Clayton and her constituents,” Ryckman said.
Retired Lt. Co.l Tony Shaffer, a Bronze Star recipient and a senior fellow at the Center for Advanced Defense Studies, shared his perspective on the defections in a tweet on Monday.
More evidence of how democrats in most places cannot win elections if they are honest…here two women who ran as republicans defect to become democrats… because they would have lost if they ran as democrats…https://t.co/e6ioEmNzd2
— Tony Shaffer (@T_S_P_O_O_K_Y) December 25, 2018
Shaffer’s comments sparked a lot of reaction on Twitter as the lawmakers were blasted for “a disgusting betrayal of the voters.”
This is straight up fraud.
— Jodi McPhee Giddings (@JodiGiddings) December 25, 2018
Anyone elected to office by one party and then switches to another before even taking office IS clearly smelling of fraud…
— Lanny (@graf_60) December 25, 2018
That should be against the law. They have disenfranchised the voters they claimed to have represented. They should have to give up their seats and have a special election or have the GOVERNOR select a replacement.
— Kevin Daubner (@kgd1963) December 25, 2018
So basically they committed voter fraud by running as republicans but they were really democrats. They should be impeached.
— News for Thinkers (@NewsForThinkers) December 25, 2018
I would start the wheels turning for a recall before they even take the oath of office. I may be wrong but this is unethical and should not be tolerated in a free and just society!
— David Riley (@davidr644) December 25, 2018
I am glad they are not in my district but I am in Kansas and it is terribly upsetting what the low life Democrats have done sending in their own to run under false pretenses as Republicans.
— Donald Ross Cole (@DonaldRossColeT) December 25, 2018
Lied to get elected.
Can they be removed by their constituents? Go for it in Kansas. Start with that they lied about being a member of the party they ran in, using the Republican money.
Send them home.
— Ted Gage (@TedGage300) December 25, 2018
That’s a disgusting betrayal of the voters.
— mishmashmisty (@mishmashmisty) December 25, 2018
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