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Democrat Sheriffs Switch Parties, Will The Virginia GOP Capitalize?

Sheriff Chip Shuler of Virginia's Smyth County joined Sheriffs John McClanahan of Buchanan County and Brian Hieatt of Tazewell County to become the third elected law enforcement

official to call it quits with Virginia’s Democratic Party due to a "relentless attack on law enforcement by Democrats in Richmond and Washington," reported Lucas Manfred and Jon Street of Fox News.

"My deputies work hard to serve and protect the citizens of Smyth County. As sheriff, it has been difficult to watch my deputies try to move forward during this unprecedented assault on our profession," Shuler said in a statement, according to WJHL. We (law enforcement) remain an honorable profession and should not be judged by the bad acts of a few. I have always been a conservative throughout my law enforcement career of 38 years."

The Democratic Party gained a slim majority in Virginia's General Assembly in 2019. Since then, Virginia Democrats have passed a series of so-called reforms including banning no-knock warrants, creating a statewide minimum training for law enforcement officers on racism, biased profiling and de-escalation techniques, and prohibiting law enforcement from obtaining or using specified equipment, including grenades, weaponized aircraft and high-caliber firearms.

"Here I’m supposed to be the Democratic sheriff, these people are citizens, these are people that I know that have asked me for help when they’ve needed it, but yet they’re holding up signs asking to defund my department," Hieatt continued. "It’s hard for me as a sheriff to wear a badge as a sworn law enforcement officer and elected sheriff and say I’m with the Democratic party when I would see the things that’s going on that’s hurting law enforcement."

In an exclusive interview with Fox News, Sheriff Hieatt argued that the Democratic Party's values have changed and that Democratic Party lawmakers are trying to implement policies that "make it easier for criminals."

"When we arrest somebody, when we convict somebody, there’s been a victim of a crime," Hieatt said. "When you’re changing laws to try to make things better for [criminals], what’s making things better for the victims who had to suffer?"

When Sheriff John McClanahan of Buchanan County, Virginia left the Democratic Party he posted a thoughtful and heartfelt commentary on Facebook, saying, “I can no longer be associated with the National Democratic Party due to them introducing bills that negatively affect my community and my livelihood. Democratic leaders across the country have been the ones that are pushing for bills that negatively affect Law Enforcement as well as other values I stand for.”

What were the other values that Sheriff McClanahan stands for?

“Many who know me,” said Sheriff McClanahan, “know that my world revolves around Religion, Family and Occupation in that order."

And he went on to say, "I have said it many times but the Democratic Party is going against everything I stand for, pushing for defunding the police and the taking away of safeguards that have been put in place for us."

What Sheriffs McClanahan, Hieatt and Shuler are telling Republicans (and Democrats) is that Democrats have abandoned the values that millions of Americans believe in and by which they rule their lives, and that values are more important – much more important – than political party labels.

The Republican Party of Virginia, dominated as it has been by values-free moderates like Eric Cantor and Ed Gillespie, has been notoriously inept when it comes to capitalizing on political opportunities like this. So, the challenge for Virginia Republicans – indeed for Republicans across the country – is to run values-centered campaigns to capture the votes of the millions of voters who feel like Sheriffs McClanahan, Hieatt and Shuler do and are equally disaffected with the Democratic Party’s shift in values. A good place to start would be to get the Sheriffs’ stories out to the thousands of conservative Democrats that the Virginia GOP could convert if they only made the effort.

  • 2021 Elections

  • Virginia

  • Democrat Sheriffs switch parties

  • law and order

  • Sheriff Chip Shuler Smyth County

  • Sheriff John McClanahan Buchanan County

  • Sheriff Brian Hieatt Tazewell County

  • law enforcement

  • Virginia General Assembly

  • Virginia Democrat agenda

  • defund the police

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