Rep. Janice Pauls (R-Hutchinson) announces she is switching from Democrat to the Republican Party on May 30, 2014. (WIBW/Doug Brown)
TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- Paint western Kansas all red. The last Democratic state representative left in that part of the state switched sides, registering as a Republican on Friday.
"As the 2014 legislative session closes, I have made the relatively easy decision to go from Blue Dog Democrat to Blue Collar Republican," said Rep. Janice Pauls (R-Hutchinson)
"That party has changed, I haven't changed," she added.
Pauls pointed to a growing gap between her "long held values" and what she described as the recent shift to the far left on social issues by her then-fellow Democrats.
"My jump to the Republican Party should not be surprising to any of my fellow Democrats," said Pauls. "My twenty years of loyalty to the Democrat party was met last election with official support from the party headquarters for the LGBT caucus that was attacking and trying to unseat me, the senior member of the Democrat House caucus. That was a clear demonstration to me of a new Democrat party policy and priority."
The Democratic Party responded to Pauls' defection by stating they will continue trying to get candidates elected who will restore recent cuts in education.
"If Jan Pauls joined the Kansas GOP because of the Kansas Democratic Party's belief in equality and opportunity for every Kansan, then that's her choice," said the party's communications director Dakota Loomis.
Pauls was joined by leaders of the Republican Party and the state House of Representatives and Senate. After making her announcement, Pauls registered as Republican and filed for reelection. Only this time, she'll have an "R" next to her name on the ballot.
“Representative Pauls has always been a well-respected member of the legislature. It was a pleasure working with her across the aisle, and I look forward to working with her as a Republican,” said House Speaker Ray Merrick (R-Stillwell).
Her switch brings the number of Republicans in Merrick's chamber to 93, which Pauls camp says is the largest ever in Kansas.
“As the 2014 legislative session closes, I have made the relatively easy decision to go from Blue Dog Democrat to Blue Collar Republican. I am filing for reelection as a Republican simply because the Democrat leadership will no longer support candidates like myself who care about life issues and traditional family values. When I first came to the Kansas House, the Democrats were in the majority with many prolife members of our caucus and for many years the caucus leadership was majority prolife. My friend, the late Governor Joan Finney, was a strong prolife populist governor. That party has changed, I haven't changed. In 2012 I became the longest serving House member and also the last Democrat standing in the western half of the state of Kansas. I have watched over the years as the party leadership has refused to acknowledge the public rebuke of the political correctness now associated with the Kansas Democrat party. By giving priority to those who advocate for abortion, the homosexual agenda, and even gun control, the Democrats have lost much public support and lost elected representatives because of their ever more leftist image.
I think everyone knows my long standing support for working families and Labor. I have watched the various unions put huge amounts of funding into the Democrat party with little to show for it. They have fewer and fewer advocates in the House because Labor issues appear to be linked to the destructive social issues of abortion, LGBT, and anti-second amendment. This is not a winning association.
Public policy is what we elected officials are all about. I feel that the state of Kansas has a huge vested interest in promoting a policy of strong families. I support growing businesses, and business owners also have a huge vested interest in strong family structure in their workers and in their communities. Police officers, school teachers and business owners tell me what broken families cost us. They dominate the penal system, they require remedial efforts in the school systems. In businesses, owners struggle to maintain a stable, loyal workforce. Conservatism on social issues is good for building sound families and is also very sound fiscal policy. Without basic moral family values, government can never find enough tax money to pay for all the programs and fixes of a society that jettisons traditional religious principles.
My jump to the Republican Party should not be surprising to any of my fellow Democrats. They have seen the direction that the Party Chair and others have taken the Kansas Democrat party. My twenty years of loyalty to the Democrat party was met last election with official support from the party headquarters for the LGBT caucus that was attacking and trying to unseat me, the senior member of the Democrat House caucus. That was a clear demonstration to me of a new Democrat party policy and priority. The blue dogs are run off, Labor is at the back of the line, and political correctness rules even though it doesn't sell with the public. Also, when I saw wholesale mocking of the deeply held beliefs of the Catholic Church on abortion and the religious freedom bill, I felt that it was time to go.
I look forward to debating the issues and making Kansas and my community a better place to live with the Republican Party.”
Posted by: Nick Viviani