Democratic Nebraska state senator defects to GOP over opposition to abortion

With the arrival of Mike McDonnell, the conservatives obtain enough legislators to overcome the filibuster to approve their regulations.

Nebraska Democratic state senator Mike McDonnell announced his switch to the Republican Party because he considered that as a Catholic and pro-life advocate, he could not follow the current line of the Blue Party. His move represents a key change in the Badger State's unicameral legislature, since conservatives get 33 seats - of the 49 total -, which allows them to overcome the filibuster vote to get their bills through, this comes just at the moment when they are trying to push through a rule that gives all the electors to the candidate for federal president who obtains the most votes in the territory.

Your vote, key to passing a law to restrict abortion

McDonnell went public through a letter, in which he explained that "being a Christian, a member of the Roman Catholic Church, and being pro-life is more important to me than being registered as a Democrat. Today I am changing my party affiliation to Republican.”

McDonnell was consistent with his values, and his vote was decisive in allowing the GOP to pass a law in 2023 that prohibited abortion after week 12. This rule also considerably limited minors' access to hormonal treatments and sex change surgeries. His position cost him censure from Democrats last month, one of the key milestones in deciding the state senator to take the step.

"Newest champion of conservative values"

In a statement, the Republican Party celebrated the movement that allows them to obtain a "filibuster-proof" majority and welcomed their new member, whom they defined as "our new champion of conservative values" and highlighted his commitment to the fight for the lives of the unborn and for "establishing guidelines for common sense" versus gender ideology, especially in minors.

Today, Nebraska's unicameral legislature now has a filibuster-proof Republican majority as Sen. McDonnell switches parties from Democrats to Republican. The NEGOP welcomes senator McDonnell as our newest champion of conservatives values. Senator McDonnell was censured by the Nebraska Democratic Party in a months-long push to hold him accountable for his votes to protect the unborn and place common sense guidelines on gender-affirming care.

Democrats support abortion, but deny they censured McDonnell for being a pro-life Catholic

For her part, the president of the Nebraska Democratic Party, Jane Kleeb, issued a statement in which she assured that her party "will continue to stand up for reproductive freedom and the human rights of the LGBTQ community," but denied that the censure of McDonnell was due to his faith. In addition, he highlighted the opposition of the new Republican senator to a change in Nebraska's electoral system that allows the candidate who gets the most votes in the state to keep all the votes.

The Nebraska Democratic Party will continue to stand up for reproductive freedom and the human rights of the LGBTQ community. Our decision to censure Sen. McDonnell was never about him being a pro-life Catholic. Our decision was based on our party reaffirming our core values to protect women’s ability to make health decisions and to keep politicians out of our personal health decisions. We respect the ongoing work of Senator McDonnell on behalf of unions and his commitment to protect a fair electoral vote system we have in our state.

"Winner takes all" law

And that is precisely the battle that the GOP is raising, with the support of the governor, Jim Pillen, ahead of the presidential elections in November. Nebraska and Maine are the only states in which the distribution of electors is proportional to the number of votes obtained by each candidate. In a heavily Republican state, ensuring that Joe Biden cannot scratch any voters is important in the face of Donald Trump's victory in November, so they are trying to move forward with the "Winner Takes All" project.