Tucson City Council member Steve Kozachik, who held a gun buyback on the second anniversary of the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, has decided to switch his party affiliation from Republican to Democrat. In a Tucson Sentinel op-ed, Kozachick wrote that Arizona's Republican party is "being driven by a small, but vocal faction that has taken it far to the political right."
The Arizona Republican Party is an ideological outlier. I am not, and I see nothing that indicates that leadership is inclined to move in any direction but further away from what I believe are the values of this community. I appreciate the support I have been given by those in the party who share these feelings. I also appreciate the support I have been given by both independents and Democrats who have openly recognized my efforts to craft common sense public policy, untethered from an extreme ideological position. But the Republican Party leadership cannot expect those of us whose purpose it is to reach common ground across varying political interests to continue to wear a label that rejects that core principle.
Outgoing Republican state Sen. Frank Antenori (R), who held a rival buyback in Tucson on Jan. 8 to keep guns from being turned into police and destroyed, called Kozachik an "imposter Republican" who "finally found what shred of integrity he had left and came out as a liberal Democrat," according to the Arizona Daily Star.
Kozachik and Antenori have reportedly butted heads for some time.