The GOP has a lot of explaining to do after the news of Sally Bradshaw’s exit. Just two weeks after the Republican National Convention, one of the Party’s darlings, who advocated for reaching out to more minority and young voters, has opted to leave the Republican Party and become an Independent. This is the latest shake-up in a party that is struggling to balance its long-held traditions with a non-traditional candidate that will be representing the GOP this November in the U.S. presidential election.
Bradshaw has only been affiliated with the Republican Party, so the news of move should serve as a wake-up call to other GOP loyalists. Sally Bradshaw began her political career in the Republican sector as an intern and later joined the 1988 George H. W. Bush presidential campaign as a staff assistant and a regional field coordinator. Bradshaw’s long-standing career in the GOP as a top adviser to some of the most notable Republican campaigns, including as the senior adviser to Jeb Bush’s campaign during his push to be the GOP’s presidential nominee for 2016, puts into perspective how much the party has changed in the recent election.
The Republican Party’s support and push for Donald Trump as the next president of the United Stated has sent some long-time party loyalists looking into other options for a candidate who better meets their ideals.
“This is a time when country has to take priority over political parties,” Bradshaw said in an email to CNN.
Bradshaw’s exit may not come as a surprise to some. In addition to her time spent working on Bush’s campaign, she was one of the main voices after the 2012 election in what became known as the GOP autopsy, which was a post-election committee that evaluated the GOP’s position, especially with millennial and minority voters. She warned the Republican Party that if it doesn’t change and reach out to voters that often felt unwelcome in the GOP, they run the risk of losing major elections in the next four years, including the 2016 presidential bid.
Bradshaw’s leaving signals a major shift in party politics and a decline of the Republican Party and the progress they have made in being able to retain minority and young voters. With a number of historical firsts on the line for the November election, Bradshaw sees the GOP’s acceptance of Donald Trump as a move in the wrong direction.
“Ultimately, I could not abide the hateful rhetoric of Donald Trump and his complete lack of principles and conservative philosophy,” Bradshaw stated in her interview. “I didn’t make this decision lightly — I have worked hard to make our party a place where all would feel welcome. But Trump has taken the GOP in another direction, and too many Republicans are standing by and looking the other way.”
Her show of solidarity with her personally held beliefs signal a change in staunch party politics. Trump, the Republican Party’s presidential nominee, is seen as a danger by many in his own party because of his controversial remarks on race and gender in particular. This past week, the Republican Party’s P.R. was in overdrive after Trump criticized a deceased veteran’s family.
“I can’t look my children in the eye and tell them I voted for Donald Trump. I can’t tell them to love their neighbor and treat others the way they wanted to be treated, and then vote for Donald Trump. I won’t do it,” she said.
For Bradshaw, a party loyalist, Trump’s criticism of a Gold Star mother and the memory of her son who was killed in Iraq in 2004 was the ultimate line in the sand.
“Donald Trump belittled a woman who gave birth to a son who died fighting for the United States. If anything, that reinforced my decision to become an independent voter,” she told CNN.
Trump’s confirmation by the GOP as their presidential nominee has left a lot of wreckage within the party. Bradshaw is not the first high-profile Republican Party leader to shift parties in this controversial election year. Early in 2016, strategist Mary Matalin switched from the GOP to become affiliated with the Libertarian party, and conservative columnist George Will left the party in June.
Many Republicans hope the GOP will see Bradshaw’s departure as a reason to look at the Republican Party through the lens of strong Party leaders and see there are some long overdue changes that need to be made.
[Photo by Chris O’Meara/AP Images]