by Joe Callen
State Senator John Yudichak of Luzerne County, Pennsylvania said that he will be switching his registration to become an Independent. He will caucus with the Republican majority.
Yudichak has criticized an increasingly liberal Democratic caucus that has led to this decision.
Due to issues that he finds important, Yudichak believes there is a better home in the Republican caucus.
Yudichak’s announcement comes less than 24 hours since we learned that New Jersey Democratic Congressman Jeff Van Drew has also made a decision that speaks volumes.
Van Drew has strongly opposed the Democrats’ impeachment efforts. After meeting with President Trump, Van Drew is now leaving the Democratic Party and becoming a member of the Republican Party.
Politico reported, “Van Drew’s congressional and campaign staff were informed he was planning to switch parties on Saturday…
“The question was now when, not if, Van Drew was joining the Republican Party, according to several Democrats with knowledge of the ongoing conversations.”
A top GOP source told Politico that “Van Drew reportedly met ‘at length’ with Trump on Friday and his decision to switch parties is supposed to be officially announced in the near future.”
Yudichak reflected on his situation, saying, “This is unique. I’m an independent. I’m going to be fiercely independent. I’ve been independent by nature, now it’s going to be by party.”
“Republicans hold 27 seats in the 50-seat chamber, with one solidly Republican district temporarily vacant until the winner of a Jan. 14 special election is sworn in” Washington Times reported. “Counting Yudichak and the vacant seat, Republicans will likely have an effective 29-21 majority next year.”
Yudichak, 49, has occasionally split with Democratic leadership on floor votes. He was the party’s longtime chair of the Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, and coming from a historic coal region often put him at odds with environmental advocacy groups and Democratic colleagues who favor renewable energies.
Yudichak’s departure comes after Democrats picked up six seats in the past year, substantially changing the profile of the caucus to become more liberal and shifting its powerbase to southeastern Pennsylvania.
It also comes as Democrats had eyed the potential in 2020 of capturing the Senate majority for the first time in nearly 30 years.
In 2016, Yudichak’s home county, which had long supported Democrats, flipped unexpectedly to support Trump over Democrat Hillary Clinton.
While his Senate district has a heavy Democratic registration advantage, it bore the hallmarks of Trump country: it is whiter, with lower median incomes and lower rates of college-degree attainment, than the rest of Pennsylvania.