Iowa State Representative Andy McKean of Anamosa says he’s seen an outpouring of support, and some criticism, since he left the Republican Party for the Democrats in April. Once the longest serving Republican in the Iowa Statehouse, McKean says he doesn’t regret his decision.
McKean says letters have poured in since he announced in April that he was changing his registration. In declaring his departure from the GOP, McKean cited a party he says has become fundamentally different in recent years, and said he could no longer stand his "strong, strong discomfort" with President Donald Trump.
Since that time, he says he has recieved some 1,500 messages from all over the country and outside the U.S., the vast majority of which he says are positive.
"I'd say about 1,250 have been very favorable and complimentary and another 250 have been less so. Quite frankly, with very few exceptions the negative comments have been vile and profane and in some cases quite threatening," McKean said. "And quite frankly it's just made me even more certain of the correctness of my decision because I believe that we have a president that emboldens that kind of behavior."
Rep Andy McKean says he’s gotten over 1000 messages from people, some from around the world, since he left the #GOP. Most encouraging he says, thanking him. A handful quite “vile and profane” and some “quite threatening”. Says the notes reaffirm his choice. #IACaucus #iapolitics pic.twitter.com/7Q2PNLMwoo
— Kate Payne (@hellokatepayne) May 18, 2019
Speaking with a group of voters at the Maquoketa Public Library recently, he spoke about his decision to leave behind a party he was a member of for nearly half a century. He pulled letters from his pockets that he's gotten since he went public, reading passages from them.
He read from a letter from a 71 year-old Democrat from Florida who wrote she had "never been in such fear for our democracy".
McKean says he has recieved stacks of letters from Republican as well.
"I got many, many letters like this, hundreds, quite frankly, from Republicans," McKean said before quoting a letter from an Iowa Republican. "'I too have been extremely concerned with the direction of the Republican Party and have seen it drift away from my core beliefs over the last ten years. The change has been egregious at the state level and horrifying at the federal level. As a faithful Christian, I see a Republican Party that cares little for the environment, the consequences of its policies or the needs of those less fortunate.’”
In another letter, an admirer from Canada wrote to McKean to thank him for criticizing Trump, and to question why more Americans "aren't doing more to speak out."
For himself, McKean said he was motivated by "a very, very strong moral compunction"; he felt he couldn't support the president in 2020 and therefore couldn't stay with the party.
While he concedes it may not be showing up in the polls, he believes there are more Republicans who have the same concerns he does.
"I would not be surprised," McKean said. "I think there may be more discomfort among Republicans than many people recognize."