On Monday, New Jersey state Sen. Samuel Thompson announced that he will not seek reelection this year, just weeks after leaving the Republican Party and reregistering as a Democrat.
Thompson, 87, stated his intention to switch to the Democratic Party on Feb. 13, claiming that GOP leaders abandoned him in favor of a younger candidate while he pursued another term. However, Thompson has now told the New Jersey Globe that he wishes to focus on his personal life.
“I have decided I’m not going to run for re-election,” Thompson said. “My priority should be my wife. She’s 91, and she’s had two falls in the last year and has trouble getting around. We are celebrating our 66th anniversary on Thursday. I owe her my full attention.”
Thompson served four terms as a Republican, but after state GOP officials questioned his fitness for office due to his age, he announced earlier this month that he was going to seek reelection as a Democrat.
“I have not left my party. My party leadership has left me,” he said regarding the switch, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
State party leaders chose to support another younger candidate over Thompson, prompting his decision to leave the party entirely.
“The betrayal by so many of my friends — that was too much for me,” Thompson said, per the outlet.
Thompson is a former Middlesex County GOP chairman and a two-time delegate to the Republican National Convention pledged to Donald Trump. He has compiled a conservative pro-life, pro-gun record since first winning a state Assembly seat in 1997.
Thompson was also asked if his friendship with and support of former President Trump would make it difficult for him to transition to the Democratic Party. Thompson responded, “Everybody is entitled to their own choice and what they’re going to do.”
Bog Bengivenga, the Middlesex County GOP chairman, said he was disappointed by Thompson’s decision because he considers him a friend and adviser and stated he wouldn’t continue in that capacity.
When asked about the party’s decision to back a younger candidate, the chairman said, “I was hoping the Senator would embrace it and work together as a mentor and advisor for the years to come.”
Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy welcomed Thompson, calling him a “tireless public servant.” While the state senator hasn’t received a warm welcome from every Democrat in the state, he hasn’t faced any direct opposition, the Globe reported.
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