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UPDATE: Charleston Mayor announces he's dropped Republican affiliation

(WSAZ)
Published: Jun. 17, 2016 at 10:53 AM EDT
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UPDATE 6/17/16 @ 7 p.m.

CHARLESTON, W. Va, (WSAZ) -- Charleston Mayor Danny Jones, a lifetime Republican, has unaffiliated himself with the Republican Party.

Friday morning, Jones announced he is dropping his affiliation with the Republican Party and is now an Independent.

Jones said he first registered as a Republican in 1971 during the Vietnam War, but said he has been thinking about breaking ties with the Republican Party for "a long time."

On Thursday, Jones said he changed his voter registration to unaffiliated at Kanawha County Clerks Office.

He said there are several reasons he came to this decision, including not being able to support Republican presidential presumptive nominee Donald Trump.

"I can't vote for Donald Trump because I just can't get there. I've tried ... ," Jones said. "I don't hate Trump. He says some things that are smart and good, but not anything I can identify with."

Jones was also quick to point out he would not be supporting Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presumptive nominee.

Jones said he plans to vote for Gary Johnson, the Libertarian running for President.

He also said he will support Republican candidate Bill Cole for West Virginia's next governor.

"It's an age thing. I am very comfortable with my decision. Maybe I should have done it a long time ago," Jones said.

Another reason for switching parties, according to Jones, is because he does not agree with Republican views on social issues, including guns and the LGBT community.

"The bill they considered up in the Legislature. The so called Religious Freedom Restoration Act. And to try to license people to discriminate? I'm just not OK with that," Jones said.

Some community members said they are not surprised by the switch.

"I guess I am not really surprised because of all the Republicans I knew, he is the most stable and sane. In fact, I've always wondered why he wasn't a Democrat," David Kennedy, who has lived in Charleston for more than 30 years, said.

In May of 2015, Jones was re-elected as Charleston's mayor for a fourth term as a registered Republican.

Jones said he doesn't plan to ever run for another political office after he finishes out his term as mayor.


ORIGINAL STORY 6/17/16 @ 11:15 a.m.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) – Charleston Mayor Danny Jones, a lifetime Republican, has unaffiliated himself with the party.

Jones made the announcement on WV MetroNews Talkline with Hoppy Kercheval Friday morning.

He says on Thursday he registered unaffiliated at the county clerk’s office in Charleston.

“It’s the right move for me,” Jones said.

He says he has been thinking about this for a long time.

Jones says he registered as a Republican in 1971 while serving in the Vietnam War. Jones says he has won 12 primary and general elections as a Republican since 1984.

Jones says there are several reasons he came to this decision, including not being able to support Republican Presidential Presumptive Nominee Donald Trump.

“I am uncomfortable with how people want to use the party to advance their own social beliefs and give the appearance that you cannot belong to the Republican Party unless you’re a certain kind of person,” he said. “I’ve also reached the point where, for the first time in my life, I cannot support the Republican nominee for President.”

He says he has always voted Republican in a national race, but he can’t do it this year. Jones says Trump is not the kind of guy he can support. Jones was also quick to point out he would not be supporting Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presumptive nominee.

“A whole lot of things make me uncomfortable about partisan politics, and I do not want to be identified with the political partisanship that is shaping so much of the debates nationally and in West Virginia,” Mayor Jones said. “I plan to complete my current term and have no plans to run for any office ever again. I am not trying to pick a fight with anyone, and in fact, I am proud about how we’ve made so much progress in Charleston where partisan politics has been non-existent in the 13-plus years I’ve been Mayor.”

Jones says he plans to vote for Gary Johnson, the Llibertarian running for president. During the broadcast, Jones urged others to check him out.

However, Jones did point out he will support Republican Candidate Bill Cole for West Virginia’s next governor.

As an unaffiliated registered voter, Jones can pick a Democratic or Republican ballot.

Jones says he doesn’t plan to ever run for another political office after he finishes out his term as mayor.

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