August 24, 2022 Wayne Northey

After decades in GOP, Colo. senator says: ‘We need Democrats in charge’

Kevin Priola writes there is ‘too much at stake right now’ in two-page letter explaining decision to change parties

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August 23, 2022

image above: Longtime Republican Colorado state Sen. Kevin Priola, left, announced his decision to switch his affiliation to Democrat. Priola’s decision enhances Democrats’ chances of retaining their majority in the chamber in the November midterms. (Jim Anderson/AP)

WN: On these two highlighted issues, as seen below, he of course is fully justified. To think that virtually all Republican officials, state and federal, and tens of millions of voters are all crack-pots (or on crack and pot combined), is deeply distressing about the state of America today.

Then, in a two-hour interview here, by @edpilkington, Sun 21 Aug 2022: Ousted Republican reflects on Trump, democracy and America: ‘The place has lost its mind’, we read:

“I was trying to send a definitive message: this is hogwash. Taking away the fundamental right to vote, the idea that the legislature could nullify your election, that’s not conservative. That’s fascist. And I’m not a fascist.”

In Bowers’s case, his assailants in the Arizona Republican party wanted to punish him because he had steadfastly refused to do their, and Trump’s, bidding. He had declined to use his power as leader of the house to invoke an “arcane Arizonan law” – whose text has never been found – that would allow the legislature to cast out the will of 3.4 million voters who had handed victory to Joe Biden and switch the outcome unilaterally to Trump.

Bowers has a word for that kind of thinking. “The thought that if you don’t do what we like, then we will just get rid of you and march on and do it ourselves – that to me is fascism.”

From the beginning, conservatism and the Republican party were interchangeable for Bowers. “Belief in God, that you should be held accountable for how you treat other people, those were very conservative thoughts and the bedrock of my politics.”

He spoke his mind about the phone conversations he had with Trump and his lawyer Rudy Giuliani at the height of the stolen election mayhem in 2020. He spoke about the “clown circus” of Trump loyalists who tried to bully him into subverting the election, and about the “emotional violence” that has been embraced by increasingly powerful sections of the Republican party in Arizona and nationally.

He spoke his mind too about the very real danger facing democracy in America today – to his astonishment, at the hands of his own party.

“The constitution is hanging by a thread,” he told me. “The funny thing is, I always thought it would be the other guys. And it’s my side. That just rips at my heart: that we would be the people who would surrender the constitution in order to win an election. That just blows my mind.”

“The thought that if you don’t do what we like, then we will just get rid of you and march on and do it ourselves – that to me is fascism.”

Somewhere along the line, though, things started to come unstuck. A rift opened up between his old-school Republican values and those of a new cadre of activists who were energized by Trump and his embrace of conspiracy theories and strongman politics.

The worst of it was that during several of these menacing protests, his daughter Kacey was inside the house mortally ill in bed with liver failure. “She would say, ‘What are they doing out there?’ She was emotional. She told me, ‘I’m going to die.’ I said, ‘Honey, you’re not going to die.’ So she had feelings, we were trying to keep her positive.”

Kacey Bowers did die, on 28 January, three weeks after the insurrection at the US Capitol.

I asked Bowers whether, through all this, he had ever doubted his strength to stand up to the onslaught. Were his values tested?

“I never had the thought of giving up,” he said. “No way. I don’t like bullies. That’s one constant in my life: I. Do. Not. Like. Bullies.”

Primary defeat

He spoke his mind too about the very real danger facing democracy in America today – to his astonishment, at the hands of his own party.

In July, the executive committee of the Arizona Republican party censured Bowers. Its chairwoman, Kelli Ward, a Trump devotee, said that he was “no longer a Republican in good standing”.

Then on 2 August, Bowers was effectively turfed out of the Arizona legislature when he was defeated in the primary by the Satan-evoking Farnsworth. That same night, the slate of election deniers standing for statewide positions won a clean sweep.

“I think it’s a shame,” was his rueful reflection on that transition. “The suite of candidates that we now have representing what used to be a principled party is just like, wow … It’s like being the first colonizer on Jupiter.”

In February, a mega “election integrity” bill was introduced into the Arizona legislature that was the culmination of the anti-democratic drift of the party. House bill 2596 would have given the Republican-controlled legislature the power to reject any election result that the majority group didn’t like.

Bowers resoundingly killed off that bill by sending it to languish not in just one house committee, but in all 12 of them. “I was trying to send a definitive message: this is hogwash. Taking away the fundamental right to vote, the idea that the legislature could nullify your election, that’s not conservative. That’s fascist. And I’m not a fascist.”

excerpts:

Colorado state Sen. Kevin Priola was a Republican for 32 years. On Monday, he announced that he couldn’t be one any longer.

So he defected to the Democrats.

“Coloradans cannot afford for their leaders to give credence to election conspiracies and climate denialism,” Sen. Kevin Priola wrote, adding: “Our planet and our democracy depend on it.”

There is “too much at stake right now for Republicans to be in charge,” Priola wrote in a two-page letter explaining his decision, adding: “Simply put, we need Democrats in charge.”

Priola cited two reasons for the switch: Many Republicans peddling false claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen and the party’s efforts to block legislation that would fight climate change.

Priola said he watched in horror on Jan. 6, 2021, as rioters mobbed the U.S. Capitol. He thought the insurrection would lead his fellow Republicans to distance themselves from Trump, he wrote.

Instead, Republicans turned on a handful of their own — including Vice President Mike Pence, who affirmed Joe Biden’s 2020 electoral win, and Reps. Liz Cheney (Wyo.) and Adam Kinzinger (Ill.), who voted to impeach Trump after the riot.

“I cannot continue to be a part of a political party that is okay with a violent attempt to overturn a free and fair election and continues to peddle claims that the 2020 election was stolen,” Priola wrote.

Please click on: ‘We need Democrats in charge’

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