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All’s fair in love, war and politics

We’ve all done it at some point in our lives….had a change of heart.

Whether it was at the wedding altar; converted from Chevy to Ford (or vice versa); ditched our favorite athletic team due to a long succession of losing seasons; or reformed from Coke to Pepsi, we’ve made an abrupt about-face on what was considered normal within our respective lives.

What appears to be trending now is switching political affiliations….especially if you are of the Democratic persuasion in North Carolina.

Last week, two once-stout Democrats in eastern ‘Carolina announced their intentions to change their political preference to unaffiliated.

On Wednesday, Representative Paul Tine made the switch, according to a new story in our sister paper, The Washington Daily News.

Tine represents Beaufort, Dare, Hyde and Washington counties in the North Carolina House and recently won a second House term in November 2014.

According to a press release from Tine, the decision to switch was based partially on the need to work outside party affiliation to meet the needs of eastern North Carolina constituents, but it wasn’t an easy one to make. He said it was a difficult decision to make because he’s been a Democrat since he first registered to vote.

“Our region’s economy continues to lag behind the rest of the state and I cannot allow party affiliation to stand in the way of moving our region forward,” Tine stated in his press release.

Tine said he would be caucusing with the Republicans, but has no plans to change his approach, nor his positions on public and early education, Medicaid expansion and rural issues.

Two days earlier, veteran Halifax County Commissioner Rives Manning – who was also just re-elected in November 2014 – made the same switch.

Manning, who told www.rr.spin.com that he had been a registered Democrat since 1961, said he is converting to unaffiliated status because he felt troubled over the direction he feels the county’s Democratic Party is headed.

“I have found that the current leadership in the Halifax County Democratic Party has made my conservative stands and what I stood for and who I supported an issue. They have and are taking the Halifax County Democratic Party in a direction that I cannot and will not support or be a part of,” Manning stated.

However, neither Tines nor Manning are the first to have a political change of heart. In March of last year, The Constitution Daily reported on its website a “Who’s Who” listing of party jumpers as follows:

Hannibal Hamlin was Abraham Lincoln’s first Vice President. He was a life-long Democrat who switched parties after 1856, when he didn’t agree with the pro-slavery position taken by many party members.

Theodore Roosevelt served nearly two full presidential terms as a progressive Republican. But after he grew dissatisfied with his hand-picked successor, William Howard Taft, Roosevelt left the 1912 Republican convention and formed his own party. He lost his bid for a third term in office, and he later returned to the GOP.

Wendell Willkie, the 1940 Republican presidential candidate, was a delegate at the 1932 Democratic convention. But he officially left the Democrats in 1939 after a dispute with the Franklin Roosevelt administration.

Ronald Reagan was originally a Democrat and a New Deal supporter, who became a union leader while in Hollywood. He switched parties officially in 1962 and gave a famous quote: “I didn’t leave the Democratic Party. The party left me.”

Strom Thurmond ran as a segregationist candidate for President in 1948, and then served in the U.S. Senate in the 1950s. By 1964, Thurmond switched to the Republican Party in the middle of the Civil Rights battle, as many Democrats sided with the Johnson administration.

Elizabeth Dole served in the Johnson administration in the 1960s as a Democrat. But she remained with the Nixon administration, and switched parties in 1975, before her husband, Bob Dole, joined Gerald Ford on the 1976 GOP presidential ticket.

In 1964, a very young Hillary Rodham Clinton was one of the Goldwater Girls who campaigned for the Arizona Republican. She officially became a Democrat later in the 1960s after she attended the 1968 GOP convention.

Leon Panetta started out in politics as a Republican and he worked briefly in the Nixon administration. He switched parties in 1971 over concerns about the civil rights policies of the Nixon administration.

Elizabeth Warren, a current liberal icon, started life as a conservative who voted Republican because of the party’s pro-business stance, and she didn’t switch to the Democratic Party until the mid-1990s.

In today’s ever-changing political landscape, I wonder which local, state or national politician will be the next to make headlines for jumping ship of their respective party?

Cal Bryant, an unaffiliated voter, is Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. He can be contacted at cal.bryant@r-cnews.com or 252-332-7207.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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