Democrat Nebraska State Senator Leaves the Democrat Party – Becomes a Republican

by J Pelkey
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After 40 years of serving the state of Nebraska as a Democrat State Senator, Mike McDonnell has announced his departure from the Democrat Party to join the Republican Party.

McDonnell, whose tenure has been characterized by a strong commitment to his Catholic faith and pro-life stance, cited increasing ideological differences with the Democrat Party as the motivation for his decision, as reported by the Nebraska Examiner.

As a legislator representing South Omaha for four decades, McDonnell’s Democratic affiliation was deeply rooted in his Irish Catholic heritage and family political background.

However, recent actions by the Democrat Party, including censuring him and limiting his access to party resources due to his pro-life stance, prompted his unexpected switch.

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During a press conference, McDonnell discussed his political journey and the core values that have influenced his beliefs. “I asked the Democratic Party, Douglas County, to respect that I’m pro-life, that I’m a member of the Roman Catholic Church. My beliefs are based on that. Douglas County Democrats, instead of respecting it, they decided to punish it,” he conveyed to the media and his supporters.


Speculation surrounding McDonnell’s potential candidacy for the Omaha mayoral position continues, and despite his party switch, he is still considering the option of running. This occurs alongside the incumbent Republican Mayor Jean Stothert’s announcement of her campaign for a fourth term.

Mayor Stothert extended a welcome to McDonnell as he joined the Republican Party, underscoring the party’s inclusive nature. “As a lifelong Republican, I have appreciated that the Republican Party continues to be a big tent that welcomes a wide array of views,” she remarked, extending an olive branch to her former opponent with whom she had clashed frequently on city fire union matters.

From the Nebraska Examiner:

McDonnell’s switch, confirmed by Douglas County election officials, gives the GOP 33 members in a one-house Legislature. That’s a significant number in a 49-member body with rules that require 33 votes to overcome a filibuster. Democrats would then hold 15 seats, plus a progressive who is a registered nonpartisan.

The Legislature is officially nonpartisan and often splits along different fault lines than political party. On controversial votes, however, senators tend to vote more often along party lines.

The timing of McDonnell’s switch could matter. Gov. Jim Pillen on Tuesday joined former President Donald Trump and his supporters in calling for Nebraska to award all its presidential electoral votes to the statewide winner of the popular vote.

Currently, Nebraska and Maine award a single Electoral College vote to the winners of the presidential popular vote in each of the state’s congressional districts. Trump won four of Nebraska’s five votes in 2020. Biden won one vote, in the Omaha-based 2nd District.

McDonnell was asked whether he would support cloture, a procedure to end debate, on any bill that contains language that would switch Nebraska to a winner-take-all approach in presidential elections, including if it gets folded into legislation he supports.

“No, next question,” he said.

Asked to elaborate, he said, “I’m not supporting winner-take-all. I haven’t in the past when that question came up. Years ago, I was pretty clear on my position.”

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