A devout Republican commissioner in northwest Oregon says she can no longer stand by the party because of Trump's "racist tactics" and changed her political affiliation to become a Democrat.
Lori Stegmann left a long explanation on her Facebook page on Wednesday for her sudden choice after spending her entire adult life as a conservative. She chronicled her love of conservative leaders over the years and her start in the U.S. as an orphan and immigrant from South Korea.
Stegmann explained to her constituents in Multnomah County, which encompasses Portland, that she didn't want to leave the party but "it became impossible for me to stay."
"I have not changed but the Republican party clearly has," Stegmann said in her message. "There's too much at stake in our country right now and we have to speak out. As a woman, a business owner, a mother, an immigrant, and a minority I cannot condone the misogyny, the racism, and the unethical and immoral behavior of the current administration."
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In an interview with USA TODAY on Thursday, Stegmann said the response she got from her community — and the nation — was swift, and mostly positive.
"It was incredible," she said. "I feel like I struck a nerve because so many people told me 'That's what I'm feeling,' and 'You're right, the Republican party I joined has changed.'"
She said her tipping point came with the Trump administration's zero-tolerance policy on immigration, which led to thousands of children being separated from their families.
"I've been so blessed," Stegmann said of her life as an immigrant. "Then to see the rhetoric coming from the Trump Administration dehumanizing immigrants. These are people like me and what he is spouting is not what the United States is about, what it has always stood for."
Stegmann summed up much of her reasoning for leaving the party to President Donald Trump and the policies of his administration. She said while she had never liked the business mogul-turned politician, seeing the lack of resistance from the Republican party made it hard to stay.
She said it takes courage to stand up to those in power and to stand up for what you believe, but she hopes her story might embolden others, including Republican leadership.
"I do think as being a good friend includes holding a mirror up to someone when they're wrong. I would like the Republican party to hold a mirror up to the Trump administration and the tyranny he's wrecked on our nation," Stegmann said. "I hope they speak out and I hope more people will stand up for what they believe."
In her post on Facebook, she said the president "has emboldened a dark side of our country" and while becoming a Democrat was a change, it wouldn't change beliefs or work.
"I am still the same person, I still vote my mind and conscience," she said in the post. "I believe our world needs more people who feel empowered and who can think for themselves, and stand up to the bullies of the world."
While party switches aren't incredibly common, especially in higher branches in government, the governor of West Virginia surprised many when he announced he was switching parties and would become a Republican.
Gov. Jim Justice made the announcement last year alongside President Trump at a rally in the state.
The party switches, combined with a large number of conservative lawmakers resigned amid scandal or retired, could put more pressure on the November midterms.
Republicans are vying to keep their majority of both the House and Senate in Congress as Democrats battle for control.