Andy McKean is the longest-serving Republican legislator in Iowa. McKean, a lifelong Republican, announced that he would switch parties to the Democrats over his opposition to President Donald Trump’s policies.
McKean is a retired attorney and square-dance caller, according to his official bio. He served in both the Iowa House and Senate between 1979 and 2003. He returned to run for office in 2016 and says he plans to run for re-election as a Democrat.
McKean, who had been appointed to head the House Ethics Committee, said that he left the Republican Party, in part, because he believed Trump’s spending was “reckless” and his foreign policy was “erratic” and “destabilizing.”
“I believe that his actions have coarsened political discourse, have resulted in unprecedented divisiveness and have created an atmosphere that is a breeding ground for hateful rhetoric and actions,” McKean said. “Some would excuse this behavior as ‘telling it like it is’ and the new normal. If this is the new normal, I want no part of it.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Andy McKean is Iowa’s Longest-Serving State Legislator
McKean served in the Iowa State House for seven consecutive terms from 1979 until 1993, according to his official bio.
McKean went on to serve in the Senate for three terms, from 1993 to 2003, before retiring.
He returned to run for the Iowa State House in 2016 and won his re-election race last year.
McKean represents a swing area where Trump overwhelmingly won in 2016, The Washington Post reported.
2. McKean Left The Republican Party Over Donald Trump
McKean, a lifelong Republican, gave a speech on April 23 announcing that he was switching his party to the Democrats, in part because of his opposition to President Trump.
McKean said he believed Trump’s economic policies were “reckless” and his foreign policy was “erratic.”
“I believe that his actions have coarsened political discourse, have resulted in unprecedented divisiveness and have created an atmosphere that is a breeding ground for hateful rhetoric and actions,” he said. “Some would excuse this behavior as ‘telling it like it is’ and the new normal. If this is the new normal, I want no part of it.”
“Unacceptable behavior should be called out for what it is,” he added, “and Americans of all parties should insist on something far better in the leader of their country and the free world.”
McKean said that after his hiatus from the legislature, he returned to find a “very different place” that was “more partisan and regimented.”
“I might have limped along, attempting to work within my caucus for what I felt was in the best interest of the people I represent, if it hadn’t been for another factor,” he said. “With the 2020 presidential election looming on the horizon, I feel as a Republican that I need to be able to support the standard-bearer of our party. Unfortunately, that is something I’m unable to do.”
3. GOP Appointed McKean as Chair of Ethics Committee Before He Left
McKean’s departure from the party comes just months after he celebrated his appointment as Chair of the Iowa House Ethics Committee.
McKean shared a statement from Republican House Speaker Linda Upmeyer on Facebook, writing, “I will do my best to lead a fair and impartial committee and appreciate Speaker Upmeyer entrusting me with this responsibility.”
Since he left the party, he can no longer serve as the Ethics Committee chair.
“This will not distract us from moving forward with the conservative agenda that Iowans have tasked us with,” Upmeyer said in a statement after McKean’s departure, according to the Des Moines Register. “As a majority of 53 strong Republicans, we are committed to completing our work and wrapping up the session.”
With McKean’s departure, Iowa Republicans’ advantage in the state House has fallen to just six seats. The Republicans held 59 of the 100 House seats at the end of the last session.
4. McKean Plans to Run For Re-Election as a Democrat
McKean said Tuesday that he plans to run for re-election as a Democrat, though he admitted he may have difficulty after winning so many races as a Republican.
“I fully expect there will be some ramifications,” he said Tuesday.
McKean is the seventh Republican to switch parties since the 2016 election.
The Kansas state legislature’s Republicans saw an exodus in December 2018, when state Sens. Dinah Sykes and Barbara Bollier and Rep. Stephanie Clayton announced they were switching to the Democratic Party.
In January, California Assembly Member Brian Maienschein and New Jersey state Sen. Dawn Addiego also switched from the GOP to the Democrats.
Maine Rep. Donald Marean also left the GOP in January, but he is now an independent.
5. McKean is a Retired Attorney & Square-Dance Caller
McKean is listed as a retired attorney and square-dance caller in his official bio.
McKean, a graduate of the State University of New York at Oneonta who received his law degree at the University of Iowa, was previously listed as a bed-and-breakfast owner and college instructor during his past legislative stints. McKean was a square-dance caller for the Scotch Grove Pioneers and operated the Shaw House Bed and Breakfast.
He and his wife Constance have been married since 1983 and have three daughters and one son.
His great-grandfather, John McKean, was a judge and served in the Iowa state Senate.
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