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Hundreds of Lee County registered Republicans leave party, chairman not worried

We’re years away from another election, but that didn’t stop hundreds of voters in Lee County from switching political parties.

A political expert told us the attack on the U.S. Capitol caused the Republican Party to lose more members than other parties.

Almost two weeks ago, the United States of America watched as hundreds of people stormed the Capitol Building. Five people, including a Capitol Police officer, died that day.

Peter Bergerson, an FGCU professor of political science, says this was the last straw for some Lee County Republicans.

According to a report from the Lee County Supervisor of Elections Office, in the week following the Capitol riot, 668 people changed their political affiliation. Nearly 530 of them were Republicans.

“It’s a reaction obviously to the actions and behavior of President Trump, the action and behavior of the Republicans in the Senate who defended the president,” Bergerson said. “Frankly repelled by the behavior of the party, and they no longer want to be associated with it.”

Jonathan Martin, the chairman for the Republican Party of Lee County, isn’t worried though. He says almost 600 out of the nearly 500,000 registered Lee County voters is small change.

“There is no question that some people left the Republican Party these last couple of weeks because they thought the Republican Party abandoned the president,” Martin said. “And then there are people who have of course left Republican Party because they thought that the Republican party was too close to the president.”

Most of the Republicans who changed their party affiliation are now registered as no party affiliation. A few dozen registered as Democrats.

The Florida Democratic Party lost 63 Lee County voters in the week following the Capitol riot too. Most of them changed their party affiliation to no party affiliation as well, but 16 are now registered Republicans.

We reached out to the Lee County Democratic Party about this and are waiting to hear back.

Bergerson says there’s no doubt the GOP is torn and now has some work to do to unite again.

“There is going to have to be a realignment and coming together, and they are going to have to look at lots of reasons internally of what values they stand for,” Bergerson said.

Reporter:Andryanna Sheppard
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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