Samuel Thompson, a state senator in New Jersey who for years has identified as a pro-Trump Republican, made the surprise announcement that he is switching parties and will run in 2024 as a Democrat.
The four-term 87-year-old Republican declared his intent to switch parties after GOP leaders encouraged him to step down over concerns about his age.
Thompson told the Philadelphia Inquirer: “I have not left my party. My party leadership has left me.”
NBC 10 Philadelphia News reported:
“An 87-year-old NJ state senator has switched from the GOP to the Democratic Party. He says he decided to leave the GOP after party leaders questioned his fitness for office because of his age.
The outlet added that Thompson was leaving the Republican Party because leaders were poised to support another candidate. A bitter Thompson said: “The betrayal by so many of my friends — that was too much for me.”
When reporters asked Thompson why he would want to run in 2024 at age 89, he replied: “It is my life. It gives me something to do every day when I wake up to get there and help people. The alternative is sit at home and just wait to die? I have to be active. I think I’m doing a public service.”
Reporters also asked Thompson about his relationship with former President Donald Trump and if he thought his move to the Democratic Party would impact their friendship. The senator replied:
“Everybody is entitled to their own choices and what they’re going to do.”
Middlesex County GOP Chairman Rob Bengivenga commented on the situation, saying Thompson’s decision to switch parties is disappointing.
“I was hoping the Senator would embrace [the recommendation to step down] and work…as a mentor and advisor for the years to come,” Bengivenga added.
Gov. Phil Murphy (D) welcomed Thompson’s decision and referred to him as a “tireless public servant.”
It is unclear if Democratic Party leaders will support Democrats to run against Thompson in 2024.
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