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America in Crisis

Republican voters abandoning the party in Pinellas, Pasco after Wednesday Capitol siege

Nearly 300 Pinellas Republicans have left the party since Wednesday.

There appears to be at least some exodus from the Republican Party in the Tampa Bay area since dramatic events unfolded Wednesday in Washington D.C.

A total of 290 voters in Pinellas County left the Republican Party since Wednesday, according to the Supervisor of Elections office.

A mob of President Donald Trump supporters breached the U.S. Capitol Wednesday afternoon as Congress was convened in a joint session to certify President-elect Joe Biden as the victor over Trump. It was the first time since 1814 the Capitol had been breached.

It led many, including much of the mainstream media, to describe the event as an insurrection and an act of domestic terrorism. It left five people dead including one Capitol police officer struck over the head with a fire extinguisher and a Trump supporter who was shot by Capitol police.

Of those who have abandoned the Republican Party since the insurrection, most, 175, changed their affiliation to no party while 59 opted for the Independent Party and 47 became Democrats. Another seven converted to the Libertarian Party. The remaining opted for other third parties.

By comparison, in the same time, only 34 Democrats changed their affiliation, 10 of whom became Republicans.

Likewise, the Republican exodus was sudden, making it hard not to attribute the affiliation changes among former Republican voters to the dramatic events that occurred Wednesday. Only 12 Republicans changed their party affiliation from Tuesday to Wednesday.

Pinellas County is not alone. In Pasco County, 128 Republican voters had changed their affiliation since Wednesday while only 23 Democrats changed theirs, according to the Pasco Supervisor of Elections office.

The Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections office did not immediately respond Friday with its voter roll update.

Wednesday’s Capitol siege has led to a crisis within the Republican Party as they face the final 12 days under a Trump White House. Congressional Democrats almost unanimously support removing Trump from office after he encouraged his supporters to take drastic action against the election results as Congress was convening to certify Biden as the winner.

Even as the chaos was unfolding, prompting Congress members to take cover and even don gas masks to protect from tear gas, Trump tweeted encouragement maintaining false assertions of rampant voter fraud and a stolen election.

In a video address to his supporters calling for them to go home, he continued with his baseless conspiracy theories while telling supporters “we love you” and that they were “very special.”

His failure to adequately call off the mob led to Twitter temporarily suspend his account and Facebook to suspend that account at least through the end of his presidency.

Trump’s own party has responded in a variety of ways including through Senate Republicans abandoning, for the most part, plans to challenge election results in swing states Biden won in November. Rather than challenging electors in six states, the GOP Senators challenged only electors in Arizona, a challenge that occurred before the insurrection, and Pennsylvania.

Later, at least one Republican member of Congress indicated support for removing the President while some others said they would consider voting in favor of a second impeachment.

Florida’s own senior U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio issued a video address Friday taking a right of center approach as he faces a likely contested reelection in 2022.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at Janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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