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Wilson voters made a statement Monday afternoon when they banded together to change their political party affiliation.
The action was a part of a national campaign called #WalkAway where voters document why they are choosing to leave the Democratic Party.
Six voters headed to the Wilson County Board of Elections Monday to do just that, including 88-year-old Joyce Wells.
“I’ve never felt like this before,” said Wells, who has been a registered Democrat for 70 years. “I’m going to independent.”
Wells said the decision to switch followed Senate confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who was accused of sexual misconduct.
“I can tell you how simple it is for me,” Wells said. “I believe in the Constitution and innocent until proven guilty. And I am ashamed at my prior party for the way they’ve acted. I’ve always been a Democrat until now.”
Audrey Pridgen, 84, agreed.
She’s been a Democrat for 25 years, she said.
“There was no sense of savaging a man who hadn’t done anything to anyone,” Pridgen said. She said she wasn’t sure whether she would switch her voter registration to Republican or unaffiliated.
“I won’t know that until my hand hits the paper,” she said minutes before walking into the county’s election office.
Wilson County GOP Chairwoman Christy Fyle, who was on hand for the #WalkAway registration switch, said Republicans are reaching out to disaffected Democrats like those who turned up Monday.
“This is going to be one of the biggest midterm elections ever because the moderate Democrats and the independents are sick of what the Democratic Party is doing,” Fyle said. “They are sick of it being so far left.”
Glenn Wells, a registered Democrat for 47 years, said he was switching his party affiliation to Republican. He said he should have done it some time ago, but he held out hope that “at some point Democrats would come to their senses.”
But they haven’t, he said.
“It’s really important for me to do this,” he said about switching parties. Wells has previously served as Republican state Rep. Susan Martin’s campaign manager and is currently Ken Fontenot’s campaign manger.
Fontenot, an unaffiliated candidate, is running against Rep. Jean Farmer-Butterfield, a Democrat, for the House District 24 seat.
“I think the extreme left has taken over the Democratic Party,” he said. “It’s mob rule with them now. I can’t tell you one thing Democrats stand for. But I can tell you everything that they are against. They have no platform.”
He said he thinks it’s a dangerous time.
Wells said he’s worked under various Democrats at the state level in years past.
“I wouldn’t again for anything,” he added.
Fyle said several other voters changed their party affiliation Friday in an effort to support the #WalkAway campaign.
ANNUAL OYSTER ROAST
Republicans hope to continue boosting midterm momentum this weekend as the Wilson County GOP holds its annual oyster roast fundraiser on Saturday.
The event kicks off at 6 p.m. at Scott Farms where Keyzer’s Seafood and Parker’s Barbecue will be serving a catered meal. Beer and wine will be provided by Coastal Beverage Co. Several elected officials and candidates will be on hand to speak with attendees.
Jerry Carroll, a comedian from Willow Springs who incorporates his agricultural background into his routine, will be back for a second round of fun. Admission to the ticketed event is $50 per person.
Tickets are available online through Eventbrite or by calling 252-399-9937. For more information, visit the county GOP Facebook page at www.facebook.com/WilsonCountyRepublicParty/.