Democratic Rep Switches Sides, Gives Republicans Major Edge

( – Democratic Nebraska State Senator Mike McDonnell has announced he is leaving the party to join the Republicans. Republican Nebraska Senator Pete Ricketts commented that the move gives the Republican party a “filibuster-proof” majority in the state’s unicameral legislature.

McDonnell’s shift in allegiance carries significant implications both locally and nationally as Nebraska is on the verge of progressing to a winner-take-all electoral vote allocation system for the 2024 presidential election. Until then, the state has a split electoral vote awarding system that grants two votes to the popular vote winner by state, then one vote to the popular vote winner by congressional district. Democrats have vowed to filibuster any winner-takes-all alterations.

McDonnell said that he felt punished in recent months by the Democrats for his religious pro-life views, which led in part to his decision to switch parties. He’s not alone in the decision. In early 2023, four Democratic lawmakers switched parties in Louisiana, North Carolina, and West Virginia. In July 2023, Georgia Representative Mesha Mainor switched to the Republican party.

McDonnell, 40, is Catholic and is openly opposed to abortion. He explained that he could not reconcile his religious beliefs with his political alignment. President Joe Biden has vowed to work for reproductive rights as both parties place the issue of abortion at the center of their campaigns. Biden claimed that former President Donald Trump and the Republicans, including House Speaker Mike Johnson, were “hellbent” on taking anti-abortion laws even further than they have already.

Ricketts said he was pleased to welcome McDonnell to the “Republican team.” McDonnell had already bucked the Democratic trend by voting along with Republicans on issues such as abortion and the inclusion of transgender people. In his statement, Ricketts said that the Democrats were forcing those with “common sense” out of the party.

In 2020, Trump won a majority in Nebraska but did not secure all electoral votes. Under the winner-take-all system, if Trump were to earn a majority of the vote, he would carry all electoral votes. McDonnell has also been considering a bid for Omaha mayor and announced he may still run despite the incumbent Republican Mayor Jean Stothert announcing that she will run for a fourth term.

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