Third Virginia sheriff leaves the Democrat Party to become a Republican

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Thanks to its increasing anti-police extremism, the Democrat Party has lost three influential voters in Virginia.

The three influential voters — Sheriff Chip Shuler of Smyth County, Sheriff John McClanahan of Buchanan County and Sheriff Brian Hieatt of Tazewell County — were once all Democrats. But not any anymore.

Shuler made his switch two Mondays ago when he formally filed a membership application with the Smyth County Republican Committee and the application was promptly approved, as reported by local station WJHL.

“I am changing to the Republican Party because of the relentless attack on law enforcement by Democrats in Richmond and Washington. My deputies work hard to serve and protect the citizens of Smyth County,” he said in a press release at the time.

“As sheriff, it has been difficult to watch my deputies try to move forward during this unprecedented assault on our profession. We remain an honorable profession and should not be judged by the bad acts of a few,” he added.

Smyth County Republican Committee chair Adam Tolbert didn’t hesitate a second to welcome a new Republican to the team.

Welcome to the Republican Party, Sheriff Shuler!

Posted by Smyth County Republican Party on Wednesday, May 26, 2021

“I congratulate Sheriff Shuler on taking this bold move to leave the Democratic Party and join the Republican Party. We are thrilled to have him as a member of the Republican Party in Smyth County,” he told WJHL.

McClanahan and Hieatt both made their conversions in 2020.

“My career is a large part of my life and I consider it to be my calling. I have said it many times but the Democratic Party that we know today is no longer the party my grandfather was involved in,” McClanahan said in a statement last September.

“The ideologies of the party have shifted away from those traditional values. Currently, the Democratic Party is going against everything I stand for, pushing for defunding the police and the taking away of safeguards that have been put in place for us,”  he added.

Read his full statement below:

“This evening, the Executive Committee of Republican Party of Buchanan County voted and accepted the membership of…

Posted by The Republican Party of Buchanan County, VA on Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Hieatt, the first of the three to switch teams, made his announcement in July, according to the Bluefield Daily Telegraph.

“After much prayer, thought and deliberation, I am giving my resignation for the Tazewell County Democratic Committee. I appreciate the friendships and support I have had through the years by being affiliated with this party,” he said at a press conference at the time.

“[H]owever, I feel the Democratic Party’s interests, especially on the state and national levels, have continued to rapidly go in the opposite direction of the beliefs that my wife and I share,” he added.

He further pointed out that both Democrat policies and Democrat behavior had inspired his conversion.

“On Father’s Day, he recalled seeing Democratic protestors in front of the Tazewell County Courthouse holding an upside-down American flag and waving signs saying ‘Defund the Police,'” the Daily Telegraph reported.

“I’m not saying our locally elected Democratic officials are bad. What has upset me is on the state and national level. I think our locally elected Democrats truly care for our people in Tazewell County, but the ones in the state and national level do not care about our citizens,” Hieatt continued.

Driving this exodus has been the embrace by the Virginia Democrat Party, which has controlled both chambers of the Virginia General Assembly since 2019, of so-called “criminal justice reform” legislation that has limited the police’s authority, deprived them of required weapons/equipment and, in some cases, defunded them.

“Some of the more controversial bills banned no-knock warrants, limited the offenses for which an officer can stop a person while driving, limited the types of weapons and equipment police could use and established a process by which a department could be partially defunded if the state deems that they have engaged in biased policing,” according to the Franklin News Foundation’s news project, The Center Square.

Virginia Democrats even tried to end qualified immunity but ultimately failed only because a few moderate Democrats in the Virginia Senate voted against it.

“It’s not surprising in the slightest that these law enforcement professionals would change parties. Virginia Democrats have made it clear that they stand with criminals, not law enforcement and victims,” Virginia House Minority Leader Todd Gilbert told The Center Square.

“I can’t imagine how difficult it would be to defend that agenda while still promising to serve and protect local residents,” he added.


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