Waukesha Mayor Leaves Republican Party
After the events at the U.S. Capitol, Mayor Shawn Reilly is "ashamed" of the party.
Insurgence by pro-Trump extremists at the U.S. Capitol Wednesday has prompted longtime Republican Waukesha Mayor Shawn Reilly to denounce his party.
In a Facebook post, Reilly said he knew the decision could cost him his political career, but said he was too upset not to announce his decision publicly.
When contacted by WPR, Reilly did not want to comment further, saying the post spoke for itself. Though he did say he’s expecting a negative reaction from the GOP and the public for his decision.
Reilly is a former attorney who was elected as mayor of Waukesha — a nonpartisan position — in April 2014.
His condemnation of the GOP is significant given his geographic location. Southeastern Wisconsin’s WOW counties — Waukesha, Ozaukee and Washington — are a known Republican stronghold. For the GOP to win in state races, Republicans need to do well in the WOW counties. And they typically do.
James Wigderson, Waukesha resident and editor of RightWisconsin, said Reilly’s message is significant because he’s the mayor of the largest city in a place that is traditionally seen as the center of Republican politics in Wisconsin.
“While he holds a nonpartisan position, traditionally in the last 20 years or so, democratic officials have not fared well in the city,” Wigderson said. “While Reilly didn’t say he was becoming a Democrat, that he would feel free to openly say he was ashamed of ever being a member of the Republican Party I think is a signal of the changing political tide here in the city.”
Wigderson said while Democrats say they’ve done a better job reaching the community, he thinks there’s just a distaste for what’s going on in the Republican Party.
“You have a faction of the party that is hell-bent on fighting for Donald Trump until the bitter end, and there are people that are on the sideline, that may not be the most active, recoiling in horror at what that means,” Wigderson said.
When reached by email, Wisconsin GOP Chairman Andrew Hitt didn’t comment on Reilly’s leaving the party, but said what happened at the U.S. Capitol was “beyond reprehensible.”
Former Waukesha Mayor Larry Nelson, who served from 2006 to 2010, has been active in the Democratic Party for about 40 years and has spent the last 19 years in Waukesha government.
“As I always told people, there are no Democratic or Republican potholes,” Nelson said. “But people do tend to know whether you are active in the Democratic or, in Waukesha County, more people tend to be active in the Republican Party.”
Nelson said Reilly has conducted himself with integrity and honesty, and said he thinks the community will understand his reaction to the tragic results of the extremists who stormed the Capitol.
“I don’t know if he’s planning to run for a third term or not, but I don’t know if it will hurt him, it might even help him,” Nelson said. “I do think there is a significant (political) change going on, I don’t think we’ll really know until future elections whether the changes will be permanent or just have to do with President Trump.”
Listen to the WPR report here.
Waukesha Mayor Denounces Republican Party After Chaos Erupts At US Capitol was originally published by Wisconsin Public Radio.
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