GOP 'extremist movement' prompts NC candidate to switch to Democrat

10/31/2013 3:34 PM

08/05/2014 6:51 PM

A Republican congressional candidate is renouncing his party and switching his affiliation to Democrat.

Jason Thigpen, who is challenging Republican U.S. Rep. Walter Jones in the 3rd Congressional District, wrote a blistering assessment of his former party, saying his shift was precipitated by the tea party push for a government shutdown.

“I simply cannot stand with a party where its most extreme element promote hate and division amongst people,” Thigpen said in a statement posted to his campaign website Thursday. “Nothing about my platform has, nor will it change. The government shutdown was simply the straw that broke the camels back. I guess being an American just isn’t good enough anymore and I refuse to be part of an extremist movement in the GOP that only appears to thrive on fear and hate mongering of anyone and everyone who doesn’t walk their line.”

Thigpen is a six-year Army veteran who received a Purple Heart, according to his website. He graduated from UNC-Wilmington in May and started a nonprofit group called Student Veterans Advocacy Group. The 36-year-old lives in Holly Ridge with his wife and four children.

His statement is not the first time he’s bucked the Republican Party. Earlier this year, he earned a headline in the Fayetteville Observer for calling the GOP-drafted law to require a voter ID at the polls discriminatory and saying it would suppress the right to vote. At the time, he described himself as a “true Republican.”

"You can paint a turd and sell it as art, but it's still a turd,” he said at the time.

Thigpen again took aim at the GOP legislature in his party-switching announcement. “I didn’t go to war to defend the liberties and freedoms of one party, race, sex, or one income class of Americans,” he said. “So, to come home from serving our country and see North Carolina legislators using their super-majority status to gerrymander districts and pass a law to deliberately suppress and oppress the voting rights of Democrats but more specifically minorities and college students, is absolutely deplorable.

“This same group of spineless legislators piggybacked a motorcycle safety bill with legislation intentionally geared to shut down women’s health clinics because of their ‘right righteous’ beliefs on abortion, while then cutting funding to the programs which help feed and provide healthcare to the babies they invariably forced the same women to have. Sounds like the Christian thing to do, huh?”

He goes on, and on, to hit his former party. ( Read the full statement here.) Thigpen raised $42,000 through June as a Republican, according to FEC reports.

Jones himself is a party switcher. He first ran for Congress in 1992 as a Demcorat but later won in 1994 as a Republican. Jones is also facing a Republican primary fight from Taylor Griffin, a former aide to President George W. Bush.

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