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Nebraska Democrat Switching to Republican Is Major Victory for Trump

1 week ago 25

A Nebraska state senator on Wednesday announced is leaving the Democrats and joining the GOP, a move that, along with another Republican in the state's legislature, could help the state change its election laws to favor former President Donald Trump.

State Senator Mike McDonnell told reporters on Wednesday, "Today I'm announcing, I am now going to be a registered Republican in the state of Nebraska," after being a Democrat since 1984.

Trump, the presumed 2024 GOP presidential nominee, is on course for a rematch against Democratic incumbent President Joe Biden in November.

Most of the state of Nebraska has historically voted red, but because of the way the state's Electoral College is set up, Democrats have won some of Nebraska's electoral votes in past presidential contests.

Newsweek has reached out to the Trump campaign for comment.

Former President Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at the Gaylord National Resort Hotel And Convention Center on February 24, 2024, in National Harbor, Maryland. A Nebraska Democrat announced on Wednesday... Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

McDonnell chalked up his decision to switch parties to the reaction that the Nebraska Democratic Party has had to his anti-abortion views.

"I asked the Democratic Party in Douglas County to respect that I'm pro-life, that I'm a member of the Roman Catholic Church. And my beliefs are based on that," McDonnell said. "Douglas County Democrats instead of respecting it, they decided to punish it."

"They said you cannot participate, you can't be a delegate, we're not gonna share our party resources," he continued. "I continue to vote pro-life. The state Democratic Party decided in censure me. I continue to vote pro-life."

McDonnell was censured by the Nebraska Democratic Party in March, condemning his voting records that the party believed had negatively affected the reproductive rights and rights of transgenders in Nebraska.

Newsweek reached out to McDonnell via email for comment.

Nebraska Democratic Party chair Jane Kleeb said in a statement on Wednesday: "The Nebraska Democratic Party will continue to stand up for reproductive freedom and the human rights of the LGBTQ community. Our decision to censure Sen. McDonnell was never about him being a pro-life Catholic.

"Our decision was based on our party reaffirming our core values to protect women's ability to make health decisions and to keep politicians out of our personal health decisions. We respect the ongoing work of Senator McDonnell on behalf of unions and his commitment to protect a fair electoral vote system we have in our state."

McDonnell's move signals that Nebraska may be headed for a major change as GOP leaders, including Gov. Jim Pillen, have championed a move to a winner-take-all system for allocating the state's Electoral College votes.

This approach would align with the majority of states but would mean changing Nebraska's unique method that allows its electoral votes to be split by Congressional district—a practice shared only with Maine.

Former President Barack Obama and President Joe Biden secured a portion of the state's electoral votes by winning enough votes in 2008 and 2020, respectively. With the 2024 election expected to be extremely close, Republicans are concerned that Biden securing even one electoral vote from Nebraska could be the difference between Trump winning and losing the election.

Advocates argue this move would streamline Nebraska's voice in presidential elections, reflecting a unified stance rather than a divided electorate. Critics, however, view it as a strategic maneuver to solidify Republican dominance in a state that has shown pockets of Democratic support.

Changing Nebraska's Election Laws

Pillen on Tuesday threw his support behind a Republican-led bill to make the change, calling it a reflection of the "founders' intent." He added that awarding all Electoral College delegates to one candidate would ensure "our state speaks with one unified voice in presidential elections."

Trump voiced his support for the bill on his social media platform Truth Social on Tuesday: "Thank you Governor for your bold leadership. Let's hope the Senate does the right thing. Nebraskans, respectfully ask your Senators to support this Great Bill!"

The bill seemed to be a long shot proposal on Tuesday, with Democrats expressing confidence they had the votes to filibuster the measure before the legislative session ends on April 18. However, that situation changed with McDonnell switching parties. If McDonnell votes with Republicans, Democrats lose their ability to block the change.

U.S. Sen. Pete Ricketts, a Republican who previously served as the state's governor, said in a statement on Wednesday: "I am pleased to welcome Senator Mike McDonnell to the Republican Team. The extreme new Democrats are pushing common sense officials and voters to our party."

He continued: "The addition of Mike McDonnell to the Republican rolls in the legislature means for the first time in recent memory there is a filibuster proof Republican majority in the Unicameral. This timing heading into a Presidential election is an awesome opportunity to mobilize our Republican majority to a winner-take-all system and put one more electoral vote in the Republican column for 2024!"

Uncommon Knowledge

Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

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