December 2, 2021

Ex-GOP legislators to caucus differently

Three Cortland County legislators who left the Republican party on Wednesday will caucus together, while a fourth legislator will continue to caucus with the Republicans.

“I would caucus with the Republicans,” said Legislator Chris Newell of Cortlandville. “I’ve been a Republican my whole life.”

Newell had said he switched from the Republican Party to having no party affiliation a couple weeks ago after being upset by how the Republican Party has handled the actions of President Donald Trump over the past four years.

Newell said it’s too early to decide if he’ll switch to another party altogether or go back to the Republican Party. He said he wants to see how the Republican Party operates in the future.

“I’m hoping the Republicans will be more bipartisan,” he said. “They really need to work together.”

But for now, Newell said he feels good about his decision even if not everyone sees it the same way.

Newell’s switch was confirmed Wednesday after three other legislators — Kelly Preston of Homer, Linda Jones of Homer and Joe Nauseef of Cortlandville — decided to leave the GOP, as well. They had originally intended to join the Independence Party but that wasn’t an option so they also chose to have no party affiliation.

They said their switch was due to mounting party pressure to always vote along party lines and the repercussions they faced when they didn’t.

Jones said Thursday the three of them would caucus together, something they had been doing for several months, anyway.

Jones also said the three of them know they will be in a bit of a jam once re-elections come around in 2023. She said they could get party support to be on the ballot, noting they have gotten Conservative Party support in the past.

“I could definitely see us running on the Conservative Party line,” she said.

They could also make and run on their own party line, something Jones said Preston has done before.

But who knows what will happen, Jones said. “Maybe something will change and we’ll go back to the Republican Party.”

Jones also said the feedback she’s received from constituents regarding the party switch has been good, with most of the people she’s talked to being understanding about her decision.

But Jones said at the end of the day they are OK with their decision and will see what happens when the election swings around.

“We’re good,” she said. “We’re all strong. We’ll be OK.”