Priola, a state senator in Colorado, stated on Monday that he is transferring to the Democratic Party because he could not “in good faith” remain silent about Republicans who put doubt on the legitimacy of the 2020 election and the existence of climate change.
Priola, a moderate who served four terms in the Colorado House before moving to the state Senate in 2017, said the GOP has changed since the presidencies of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, and that he had hoped the attack on the Capitol on January 6, 2021, would cause Republicans to distance themselves from former President Trump.
His open letter was published on Twitter and he criticized how “tribal” and “much of a litmus test” political ties have become.
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He continued, “I’ve almost always been a contrarian to the conventional thinking of my party, and I have no intention of changing that.” “I don’t think one side or the other has exclusive access to the facts.”
Priola’s party switch will have little effect on the majority in the state senate, where Democrats already held 20 of the 35 seats.
Priola, though, insisted that he had not changed his mind ideologically and that he still believed conservatively on topics like abortion, school choice, and gun control.
The way I vote on the legislation has not changed and will not change,” he stated. “From now on, the R next to my name on the ballot will be replaced by a D.”
Priola wrote a letter announcing his resignation from the Republican Party effective January 6th, and he praised former Vice President Mike Pence, Utah Senator Mitt Romney, and Wyoming Representatives Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger for disagreeing with Trump’s stance on the rioting (Ill.).
Colorado Politics reports that in the wake of the Capitol uprising, Priola said he was in favour of using the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office. Denver7 News also noted that in the same month, he was the lone Republican to join with Democrats in urging Congress to adopt federal voting rights legislation.
“I can’t stay a part of a political party that’s cool with a violent attempt to overturn a free and fair election and keeps spreading lies about how the 2020 election was stolen,” Priola said.
In addition, he attacked the Republican party’s stance on climate change, labelling it a crisis and an existential threat. Priola pointed out that Republican Nixon was the president who officially established the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
According to him, “today, my Republican colleagues would rather reject the existence of human-caused climate change than take action.” I’m getting more and more convinced that doing nothing would betray our duty as political leaders.
Colorado Republican Party Chair Kristi Burton Brown tweeted twice that Priola “finally made the jump to the party he’s consistently voted with.”
She went on to say that he “has now confessed his true affiliation: a pro tax-increase Democrat” after “lying to his voters, habitually voting for tax hikes, and hurting the working folks of his district.” At the expense of the Coloradans he was elected to represent, Priola has made himself the center of attention. By January 2023, he will be in the minority and will deeply regret this choice.
Senator for the state of Colorado and Democrat Steve Fenberg released a statement praising Priola for his choice, adding that he put his constituents ahead of party politics.
Even when Senator Priola and I have disagreed, we’ve always talked things out, as Fenberg put it. Having engaged him as a Republican, we will now have to deal with him as a Democrat.