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Kevin Priola, Colorado GOP state senator, becomes Democrat, cites vote falsehoods

Republican defector makes headlines in Colorado
Republican defector makes headlines in Colorado 07:22

State Sen. Kevin Priola has left the Republican Party, citing former President Trump's rhetoric and the events of January 6th as "the last straw." In a statement he released on Twitter on Monday, the Colorado state senator who represents represents Adams County in Denver's suburbs says he can no longer "continue to be a part of a political party that is okay with a violent attempt to overturn a free and fair election and continues to peddle claims that the 2020 election was stolen."  

The moderate Republican praised national members of the GOP such as former Vice President Mike Pence, Rep. Liz Cheney, Sen. Mitt Romney, and Rep. Adam Kinzinger who "fought to defend the constitution and rule of law only to be met with ridicule and threats." Pence has been vilified in the GOP for certifying the results of the 2020 presidential race in the hours after the insurrection. Cheney, who is leading the investigation into the insurrection as vice chair of the 1/6 committee, lost her Wyoming primary bid for reelection to Congress to a Trump-endorsed candidate last week.

Numerous assertions that the presidential election was stolen have been proven false.  


Priola is in his second term as a state senator and is not up for reelection in November. But his switch increases the party's chances of keeping control of the chamber in the midterms, with Democrats now holding a 21-14 majority. Seventeen of the chamber's 35 seats are up for election this year.

In his statement, he says "I will not be changing the way I vote on legislation," instead he will "simply now cast my votes with a D next to my name instead of an R." 

Priola also cited what he called the GOP's refusal to address climate change. "Today, my Republican colleagues would rather deny the existence of human-caused climate change than take action," he wrote.

Priola has often voted with Democrats on legislation intended to address climate change and other issues. He said he will caucus with Senate Democrats but continue an independent streak that includes strong opposition to abortion.

Democratic Senate President Steve Fenberg and Gov. Jared Polis welcomed Priola's decision. State GOP reaction was swift, with party chair Kristi Burton Brown accusing Priola in a statement of "lying to his constituents" and saying: "Priola will regret this decision when he is in the minority come January 2023."

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