McKean leaves Republican Party after half century

Kim Brooks
Express Editor

Rep. Andy McKean of Anamosa, the longest-serving Republican in the Iowa Legislature, announced last week on April 23 that he was changing his political affiliation to Democrat. 

Immediately following McKean’s announcement to his fellow legislators and news conference, his biography page on the Iowa House of Representative website changed to reflect his new political party, as well as note an end to all of his Republican House committee assignments. 

McKean cited a divided Capitol in Des Moines as one of the reasons for his change in party. 

“…the legislature is considerably more partisan and regimented than it used to be,” he said. “I have found that difficult to adjust to and believe it often stands in the way of good legislation.” 

McKean said he is also concerned about how “big money” influences the legislative process, both in Iowa and Washington, D.C. 

McKean was actually first elected as a Republican to the legislature in 1978. He served seven terms in the House and three terms in the Iowa Senate. 

“While my emphasis was on bi-partisan undertakings, I was comfortable with my party’s priorities and felt at home in the Republican Caucus,” he said. 

After 24 years serving in the legislature, McKean decided to retire in 2002. He returned to his home in Jones County and ran for county supervisor. 

Then, in 2015, McKean retired from his private law practice and local government. However, he said a “chance event” led to his return to Des Moines. 

Rep. Brian Moore, a Republican from Bellevue, chose not to seek re-election to the House. McKean joked that, against his wife’s advice, he chose to return to politics. 

McKean served one two-year term and won re-election going into the 2019 session. That’s when he said he started noticing a change in his Republican Party. 

“I found myself increasingly uncomfortable with the stance of my party on the vast majority of high-profile issues and often sympathetic with concerns raised by the minority caucus,” he said. 

McKean found himself voting against Republican measures and bills. 

In addition to a change in the Iowa Republican Caucus, and with the 2020 election on the forefront, McKean said he just cannot comes to terms with supporting his party’s frontrunner, Donald Trump. 

“Unfortunately, that is something I’m unable to do. I believe that it is just a matter of time before our country pays a heavy price for President Trump’s reckless spending and shortsighted financial policies, his erratic destabilizing foreign policy, and his disregard for environmental concerns. 

“Furthermore, he (Trump) sets a poor example for the nation…by personally insulting, often in a crude and juvenile fashion, those who disagree with him, being a bully at a time when we’re attempting to discourage bullying, his frequent disregard for the truth, and his willingness to ridicule or marginalize the people for their appearance, ethnicity, or disability.” 

McKean said Trump’s actions these last two years of his presidency fuel the political discourse in the nation, and add to the divisiveness so often showcased in the national media. 

McKean urged people of all political affiliations to oppose such behavior. “Unacceptable behavior should be called out for what it is, and Americans of all parties should insist on something far better in the leader of their country and the free world,” said McKean. 

He said while it no doubt “disappointed and angered” some of his Republican Caucus members, he can no longer serve under the party. As the week came to a close last week, McKean planned to visit the Jones County Courthouse and change his official voter registration. 

“This has been a very difficult decision for me and has only come after considerable reflection, much prayer, and many restless nights,” said McKean. “However, the time comes when you have to be true to yourself and follow the dictates of your conscience. For me, that time has come.” 


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