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Pennsylvania loses Democrat State Senator, will run as Independent and caucus with GOP

(Image: WVIA screenshot)

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Democrats have lost a member of the Pennsylvania State Senate as he announced he is leaving the party to become an Independent and caucus with Republicans.

State Sen. John Yudichak, who was re-elected in 2018 to a third term representing a district that flipped to President Trump in 2016, declared his defection from the Democrat Party this week, saying he is tired of “purist” politicians who “demand that you choose a battle camp. You must pass their litmus test, and declare if you support ‘us,’ or ‘them,’” he said in a statement released Tuesday announcing his decision.

(Image: YouTube screenshot)

The 49-year-old, who represents Pennsylvania’s 14th district in the northeastern part of the state, will be up for re-election in 2022 and his switch brings the state’s minority Democratic caucus from 22 to 21.

“As an Independent, I will continue to put people above politics,” Yudichak said. “I will continue to support Democratic ideas as well as Republican ideas when it is clear that they serve the greater good and help government work for people rather than the narrow interests of partisan purists.”

“Registering as an independent is the only way I can faithfully and fully serve the people of Northeastern Pennsylvania who have blessed me with the opportunity to serve them,” Yudichak said.

“Throughout my career, I have worked to build relationships across political ideologies and regional boundaries. I am an ardent supporter of working families and the unions that built the middle class. I stand with legal professionals who use our justice system to protect the rights of citizens against the powerful,” he wrote in his statement. “I support our chambers of commerce that help small businesses grow and set the stage for corporations to create private-sector jobs. And, I am for finding a balance between protecting our environment and supporting a diverse, robust energy industry in Pennsylvania.”

But, the senator felt that the increasingly liberal Democrat Party left him and his constituents feeling “marginalized” but asserted that he would “continue to support Democratic ideas as well as Republican ideas when it is clear that they serve the greater good and help government work for people rather than the narrow interests of partisan ‘purists.'”

While Republicans welcomed Yudichak’s decision, surprised Democrats were not understanding.

“This Democratic caucus and the Democratic Party as a whole promotes a ‘large tent’ approach, and we welcome debate and diverse opinions within our membership, and will continue to do so,” Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa said in a statement in response to Yudichak’s announcement.

“We’re extremely disappointed to see Senator Yudichak turn his back on those values and his Senate colleagues who have supported him since his first election to this chamber in 2010,” he added.

Yudichak responded by noting that the Democrats’ tent “is shrinking every day.”

He told Penn Live in a phone conversation that he felt the Democratic caucus has not been supportive of issues that affect his constituents as it has continued push farther to the left.

“It became clear to me that I was going to be a marginalized voice, or worse, a silent voice, if I continued in that caucus,” Yudichak said.

“I come to this deeply personal decision with much thought and deliberation,” he said in his statement. “I choose to reject the ‘purist’ politicians who now stand as unyielding impediments to the only thing that motivates me to be in politics—getting real things done that make a true difference in people’s lives.”

His decision was applauded by many on social media.

Frieda Powers

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