Announcing his move to Democrats, a Colorado state senator said Republican attacks on democracy were not the only “existential threat” to his former party.
“I am increasingly concerned about our planet and the climate crisis we face,” Kevin Priola said in a letter posted on social media on Monday.
“The Republican party I joined decades ago created national parks, protected federal areas, and protected wildlife. President Nixon signed the legislation that created the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Today, my Republican colleagues would rather deny the existence of man-made climate change than take action.”
Priola said such inaction would affect Coloradans who are already subject to “a nearly year-round wildfire season” and “a seemingly never-ending drought.”
Republican attempts to block “reasonable climate action” meant he couldn’t shut up, he said.
Priola was last elected in 2020, when he won a narrow race in the 25th senate district, in suburban Denver. He will serve until 2025.
Once a Republican bastion, Colorado is trending left. Democrats already control the Senate, 20-15 ahead of Priola’s move.
In his letter, Priola discussed the dissatisfaction with the direction of the Republican party under Donald Trump, the former president who refuses to accept his defeat in 2020 and does indicate that he will be a candidate again in two years.
“Like many Coloradans,” Priola wrote, “I watched the events on January 6th  with horror. I felt that this would clearly be the last straw and that my party would now finally distance itself from Donald Trump and the political environment he created.
Week after week and month after month I waited for that response. It never came.”
Priola praised “brave and honorable” Republicans who stood against Trump after the Capitol attack, including Utah Senator Mitt Romney and Liz Cheney, the Wyoming congresswoman who lost her primary last week after serving as a lead on the committee of the House of January 6.
“Joyseeding to raise money or motivate voters is nothing new,” Priola wrote, “but it has been taken to a dangerous and destabilizing level.
“I cannot remain part of a political party that agrees to a violent attempt to overthrow free and fair elections and continues to claim that the 2020 elections have been stolen.”
Priola said he became a Republican thanks to the examples of Richard Nixon — the only president to step down in disgrace — and Ronald Reagan, but would now caucus with Democrats despite not sharing many of their views.
“Our ties have become too tribal,” he wrote. “I’ve always been an independent thinker and… I don’t intend to change that. I don’t believe that either side has a monopoly on the truth.
“For example my pro-life position, choice of school [support] and pro-Second Amendment stance often run counter to the Democratic party platform.”
But, he said, looking at the November election, when Republicans on the national stage will try to win back Congress, “we are in the midst of an election that will determine which party controls the [Colorado] senate chamber.
“Even if there are still issues I disagree with with the Democratic party, there is too much at stake right now for Republicans to take the lead.”
Priola said he had decided to “align with truth rather than conspiracy,” concluded Priola, “We need Democrats in charge because our planet and our democracy depend on it.”