“I have not left the Republican Party; it left me.”
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With that, Bexar County Judge Carlo R. Key, a Republican Judge from San Antonio, Texas... yes, you read that right: TEXAS... announced he is leaving the GOP to seek re-election as a Democrat, because he can no longer support a party that advocates hatred and bigotry, and condemned Tea Party extremism. His announcement came just days after another Bexar County Republican, criminal defense attorney Therese Huntzinger, declared that she had left the Republican Party and intends to challenge 15-year incumbent, Susan Reed, for district attorney.
Judge Key is a 2002 graduate of the Baylor Law School, and joined the wave of Republican judges who won seats in 2010, when all but one of the new county judges elected that year were Republicans.
While I do not doubt Judge Key's sincerity, it's also worth noting that this past summer, Judge Key also learned he would be facing a challenger in the Republican primary, Julie Wright, a prosecutor married to a police officer.
Key had already antagonized the law enforcement community by barring testimony that a horizontal gaze nystagmus test — where an officer uses a pen or finger to track involuntary eye movements — is evidence enough indicate intoxication.
Texas Democrats were not surprised by the judge's decision. Matt Angle, director of the Lone Star Project, said,“Republican state leaders in Texas have moved so far out of the mainstream. They have become so divisive that fair-minded Texans are turning away. Judge Key is a prominent and respected public official, so his actions appropriately draw attention, but every day I hear from people who formerly supported Republican candidates, but now won’t do it.”
Bexar County Democratic Party Chairman Manuel Medina said two other judges who attended a recent Democratic Party event could also make the switch in the near future, and U.S. Rep Joaquin Castro, (D-San Antonio), said he expects more to follow Key and Huntzinger. “The Republican Party is catering to such a narrow ideological base, and many Texans are realizing that the Democratic Party is a better choice. The Texas Republican Party is going backward in respect to Latino issues. This is just the tip of the iceberg.”
On Monday, Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Austin), emailed this statement: “The Republican Party today is like a canoe that's tilting dangerously too far to the right. The folks thrown in the water didn't ‘leave it,’ they were dumped.”
Looks like Republicans in Texas having tantrums may just have held their breath long enough to turn the State blue...