". . . and having done all . . . stand firm." Eph. 6:13


‘Being a Christian More Important than Being a Registered Democrat’: Nebraska Senator Switches Parties

April 4, 2024

A Cornhusker State Democrat is transitioning from blue to red after his own party censured him for his pro-life stance. On Wednesday, Nebraska Senator Mike McDonnell (R) officially left the Democratic Party after 40 years and became a Republican.

In a letter explaining his decision, McDonnell wrote, “I have asked the Democratic Party to respect my religious based pro-life position. Instead over the last year they have decided to punish me for being Pro-Life.” Last month, the Nebraska Democratic Party voted to censure McDonnell, a Catholic, over his pro-life record, claiming that his stance has “adversely affected the reproductive rights of Nebraskans and the rights of transgender individuals in the state.” The Douglas County Democrats also voted in January to deny McDonnell party funding due to his votes against abortion measures and against gender transition procedures for minors.

“The State Democratic Party voted to censure me because I am Pro-Life,” McDonnell wrote. “Being a Christian, a member of the Roman Catholic Church and Pro-Life is more important to me than being a registered Democrat. Today I am changing my party affiliation to Republican.”

In a speech addressing his decision, McDonnell explained that he registered as a Democrat in 1984 and ran for the state legislature in 2016. “I wanted to see how we could grow our state and reduce property taxes at the same time,” he said. “I asked the Democratic Party of 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. But Douglas County Democrats, instead of respecting that, they decided to punish it. … I continued to vote pro-life.”

“This is not an easy decision. After 40 years of being a registered Democrat, having your grandfather tell you when you’re 10 years old, ‘What are we? We’re Irish, we’re Catholic, and we’re Democrats.’ That kind of stuck with me,” the state senator continued. Pointing to his new Republican party-mates, McDonnell said, “Over the last year, regardless of my decision switching parties, they have been so supportive. … We had great discussions about what the Republican Party is doing, where they’re trying to go, how I potentially could fit in there. But the greatest thing about [it] is now I can participate again.”

Former governor and current U.S. Senator Pete Ricketts (R-Neb.) responded to McDonnell’s decision by saying, “I am pleased to welcome Senator Mike McDowell to the Republican team.” He added, “The extreme new Democrats are pushing common sense officials and voters to our party.”

McDonnell is far from the only Catholic abandoning the Democratic Party due to its mandatory abortion extremism. Recent studies show that white American Catholics have been drifting away from the party for decades, but in increasing numbers over the past two decades, coalescing instead around the GOP. A survey last month of Michigan voters also found that former President Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee credited with appointing the justices to the U.S. Supreme Court who dismantled Roe v. Wade, holds a significant lead among Catholic voters over incumbent Democratic President Joe Biden, a self-described Catholic. On Sunday, the Catholic archbishop of Washington, D.C., Cardinal Wilton Gregory, explained that Biden is a “cafeteria Catholic” due to his rejection of the Catholic Church’s teaching on abortion.

In response to McDonnell’s new party affiliation, Nebraska Democratic Party Chairwoman Jane Kleeb issued a statement saying, “The Nebraska Democratic Party will continue to stand up for reproductive freedom and the human rights of the LGBTQ community.” She added, “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.”

S.A. McCarthy serves as a news writer at The Washington Stand.