Earlier today, the chairman of a state chapter of the College Republicans announced that he is resigning his post and becoming a Democrat because he is fed up with the growing influence and extremism of the Tea Party. That would be major news by itself, but the real stunner is where this took place–in Mississippi. Only a few months into his tenure, Evan Alvarez, a junior political science and public policy major at Mississippi State, announced his immediate resignation as executive director of the Mississippi Federation of College Republicans. Later that day, Alvarez emailed (Jackson) Clarion-Ledger political blogger Sam R. Hall and told him that he is quitting the GOP as well and and will become a Democrat.
The run-up to today’s bombshell began in May, when MFCR executive director Kolby Busby recorded a robocall in support of Chris McDaniel’s tea-infused primary challenge to Senator Thad Cochran. In the robocall, Busby introduced himself as MFCR executive director. Longstanding MFCR policy bars its officers from endorsing candidates in their official capacity. Although Alvarez himself had openly supported Cochran, he had done so as an individual, and not in his capacity as MFCR chairman. On May 31, the MFCR board voted via conference call to begin the process of removing Busby from office.
The MFCR board was due to take up the matter at a meeting held on Saturday at Mississippi GOP headquarters in Jackson. By this time, the board had decided to simply reprimand Busby and insist on a formal apology. That wasn’t enough to stop 35 tea partiers from descending on the building to oppose any plans to oust Busby–a scene that must have been similar to the Brooks Brothers riot of 2000. According to the email Alvarez sent to Hall, when Alvarez told Busby that the board simply wanted him to apologize, Busby “became more ignorant and cruel.” With the tea partiers yelling in the lobby, Alvarez and a party staffer decided there was no way they could maintain any semblance of order, and postponed the meeting for another Saturday in July.
Apparently that moment knocked the scales off Alvarez’ eyes, because this morning he fired off a burning resignation letter denouncing the influence of the tea party in both his state and the nation at large. “I ran to be Chairman of the Mississippi Federation of College REPUBLICANS, not the Mississippi Federation of College ‘Tea Partiers’,” he wrote. He claimed that the GOP had allowed the tea party too much power, “and because of that, the platform of the Republican Party has shifted too far to the right in my opinion.” Specifically, he objected to the tea party’s demands for drastic spending cuts that would leave this country “weak and crippled.” He also objected to the tea party’s “ignorant” and “cruel” stance on immigration issues–something he takes personally, since his father fled to this country from Cuba in 1959, soon after Castro took power.
But most of all, he objected to the “hatred and cruel words” he’d heard from “far right extremist(s)” in the MFCR. Alvarez said that he could not be part of an organization that allowed its members to say “cruel and ignorant things about Women, African Americans, Hispanics, and other minorities in our country.” In what appeared to be a swipe at Busby, he said that he was not willing to allow people to “think they don’t have to answer for their actions, admit they were wrong, or even apologize.”
Later on, Alvarez told Hall that “after a lot of thought,” he’d reached out to the Mississippi Democratic Party and intended to change his affiliation “within the next few days.” This would be quite a sea change for Alvarez. According to his LinkedIn profile, Alvarez served as a campus representative with the Romney campaign during his freshman year, and spent the summer of 2013 as an intern for Governor Phil Bryant. As late as June 26, he was tweeting out calls to his fellow Mississippi Republicans to reunite after the primary “and ensure we stay a red state!”
There hasn’t been a response as of yet from Alvarez’ former colleagues. However, College Republican National Committee Chairwoman Alex Smith told The Daily Caller that Alvarez’ defection “was based on self-interest, not principle.” It’s pretty telling, though, that a prominent Republican in one of the reddest states in the nation not only defects to the Democrats, but does so in such a loudly public manner. Welcome to the party, Evan.
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