Republican Judge Carlo Key bids the GOP farewell, joins the Democratic Party. Photo by Mary Tuma
Key announced today he will run as a Democrat in his upcoming re-election campaign. A divergence of principles from the GOP led Key to make the transition. Key referenced the Republican stand-off over Obamacare, which led to a partial government shutdown, as one of the reasons for his diminishing faith in the party.
"I cannot tolerate a political party in which hate speech elevates a candidate to higher office rather than disqualifies them," said Key. "I cannot be a member of a party that is proud to ruin the financial lives of hundreds of thousands of federal employees in a vain attempt to repeal a law which provides healthcare to millions of Americans across the country. And I cannot condone a party that values ideological purity over devotion to rule of law. Make no mistake, I did not leave the Republican Party– it left me."
In an announcement video, Key points to "ideological character assassination" "pettiness" and "bigotry," as attributes that have come to define the Republican Party.
On the steps of the old Bexar County Courthouse, Key was joined by San Antonio Democratic U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte and Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa, who welcomed their new political colleague.
“Texans are looking for principled leaders to move their state forward. For far too long, the smallest minds have been making the loudest noise in the Republican Party. I welcome anyone to the Democratic tent that stands for justice and fairness,” said Martinez Fischer. “We all know that actions speak louder than words, today a Hispanic leader joins the Democratic Party, because when the fanfare around Hispanic Republican outreach is reconciled with the reality of the party’s dogma, pettiness, and bigotry, the choice of which party to support is clear."
Speakers made note of Key's impoverished upbringing and his rise to success. Key previously served as the Bexar County Assistant District Attorney before going into private practice. At the time of his election, Key was the youngest judge sitting on a county or district bench in the Texas.
Earlier this year, veteran Bexar County Judge Karen Crouch similarly switched parties– but the other way around. The Democrat, stepped over to the GOP saying she'd always been conservative and that, as Key quipped, she did not necessarily leave the party, rather the party had deserted her: "I really don't feel like I have left the Democratic Party, so much as it has left me," she told WOAI in June.
Other recent party switchers? Republican state Reps. Aaron Peña and Allan Ritter made the jump in 2010, angering Democrats as the move granted the House GOP a two-thirds supermajority, allowing Republicans to override vetoes and pass constitutional amendments without input from the Democrats.