A sheriff in western Pennsylvania has become the latest elected official to jump ship and abandon the Democratic Party, though he says that the party actually left him, not the other way around. 70-year old James Albert was elected sheriff of Westmoreland County last year as a Democrat, but he now believes that his political views align better with the Republicans than Democrats, in large part because of the anti-gun and anti-police rhetoric emanating from all levels of the Democratic Party.
“I’ve been a lifelong Democrat, but a conservative Democrat at that,” he said. “I’m pro-life, a strong supporter of the Second Amendment, a lifetime member of the NRA (National Rifle Association) and, today, I feel my ideals are closer to the Republican Party than Democrats.”
Since May, Albert said he has watched news accounts of violent riots, “arson, mob rule and attacks against law enforcement.”
“I was saddened and enraged by the murder of David Dorn, a 77-year-old African American retired police captain, who was shot by a pawn shop looter during a protest in St. Louis,” Albert said. “These outrageous, lawless acts have been met with silence, acquiescence and, in some instances, outright support from the local, state and national leadership of the Democratic Party.”
Albert’s been a fixture in Democratic politics in Westmoreland County for years, and before he was elected sheriff he served as a district judge in the county seat of Greensburg. His decision to switch his affiliation to the GOP surprised some of his friends and former fellow Democrats, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
Commissioner Gina Cerilli, a Democrat, admitted she is surprised with the political move. Albert and Cerilli regularly campaigned together in 2019.
“First, if he says one of the reasons he is changing parties is because of violent acts that occurred elsewhere around the country, his reasoning has no bearing on Westmoreland County. And if he is really concerned about the African American community, is that (GOP) truly the party he wants to join?” she asked. “On a national level, the Republican Party is not the party that stands up for the African American community.”
Is it just me, or does Cerilli sound a little defensive? Perhaps it’s because she knows how important Pennsylvania is in this year’s elections, and any elected Democrat walking away from the party in the weeks before Election Day is bad news for the Biden-backers in the Keystone State.
As for her argument that Albert shouldn’t concern himself with violent acts outside of the county, you don’t have to travel far outside Westmoreland County to see the effects and experience the chaos firsthand. Pittsburgh, just up the road from Sheriff Albert’s jurisdiction, has seen sporadic violence and continued protests all summer. In fact, just a couple of days ago three protesters were charged with disorderly conduct for harassing diners over Labor Day weekend.
One of the incidents occurred in front of Sienna Mercato on Penn Avenue. A social media video showed Black Lives Matter protesters yelling and cursing at people eating outside the restaurant. One woman walked up to a table and drank someone’s drink while several other people smashed glasses on the ground.
In another video, demonstrators became aggressive toward a manager inside a McDonald’s restaurant.
The simple truth is that the Democratic Party’s hard-left turn over the past decade has left a lot of folks like Sheriff Albert feeling unwelcome in the party that they called home for decades. I’m sure that there are plenty of Republican policies that Albert doesn’t agree with, but as he said, overall he feels more in line with the GOP these days than the Democrats. Rather than sniping at Albert’s decision, Democrats like Cerilli should actually listen to what he’s saying.
As I point out here recently that there’s just one Democrat left in Congress who’s “A+” rated by the National Rifle Association, when as recently as 2010 nearly a quarter of the Democrats in the House of Representatives earned the NRA’s top grade. Democrats have embraced an anti-gun agenda (that coincidentally, depends on armed police to enforce their gun control laws), and party leadership has made it clear that there’s no room in today’s Democratic Party for those who embrace the right to keep and bear arms.
Where are Democrats like James Albert supposed to go? Are they supposed to just give up and become non-voters? Shrug their shoulders and walk away from politics altogether? Maybe that’s what Democrats want, but they’re not likely to get their wish. Instead, more folks like James Albert will likely find refuge in the Republican Party as their longtime political home becomes downright hostile towards the issues that matter the most to them, including the right to keep and bear arms.