Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Westlund: On Becoming a Democrat

We will try to get some extended time with Sen. Westlund later this week, but for now here is something he wrote up to explain his switch:
On Becoming a Democrat
December 11, 2006

In every political decision I have made, I have followed my heart.

I knew in my heart when I left the Republican Party last February that they were taking us in the wrong direction, both in the state and nationally. The November election confirmed that belief as Oregonians and Americans also rejected their brand of leadership.

These last 10 months as an Independent have been exhilarating, yet somewhat lonely. But I don’t think I am alone when I say that the election was more a rejection of Republicans than an affirmation of Democrats. The people have sent the message that they are ready for a new direction and the Democrats have been given an opportunity to make progress on the big issues that will move our state and nation forward.

As I said when I entered the race for Governor, it’s time for us to solve real problems for real Oregonians. I promised then I would work to reduce the cost of health care and cover everyone, to make our tax structure more stable and fair, to create renewable energy jobs and reduce our dependency on foreign oil.

After leaving the race for Governor, I was moved to support Governor Kulongoski’s re-election because I felt his platform was closest to my own and his vision was best for Oregon. Since the election I have been inspired by the message sent by the people and I think Democrats value the help of Independents to get us back on track.

I have said that being an Independent doesn’t mean standing alone, it means choosing who you stand with. This past month, I have found myself rooting for the Democrats’ success on healthcare, on education funding, on expanding renewable energy. And I think it’s time I get off the sidelines and stand with them.
As I said, I follow my heart when it comes to these decisions and my heart is a Democrat. But, my spirit will always remain Independent and I think the Democrats will be ok with that because as Will Rogers said, “I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Democrat.”