Out bisexual Nebraska state Sen. Megan Hunt, who has helped filibuster transphobic legislation in her state, has switched her party affiliation from Democratic to independent.
Hunt has switched because of the media’s hyper-focus on party affiliation and “the lack of support” from national groups — like Emily’s List or the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee — for “liberal candidates in conservative-dominated states,” the Lincoln Journal Star reported.
“The parties are not the future,” Hunt told the publication. “The political dysfunction is extreme and at the national level, the parties are ideologically bankrupt.”
Hunt said her party switch isn’t a reflection of her state’s Democratic leadership and said that her politics would remain on the progressive left. Rather, she accused national groups of taking credit for the legislative accomplishments of progressive politicians in red states, like her, while not financially supporting those candidates.
She also pointed out that in Nebraska’s unique one-chamber legislature, party affiliation matters less than in other states. Leadership roles are determined by a chamber-wide vote, and committee assignments are “divided evenly among Nebraska’s three congressional districts rather than by which party is in the majority,” the aforementioned publication noted.
As such, when national media focus on Nebraskan politicians’ political affiliation, Hunt feels it doesn’t accurately reflect what’s happening in her legislature and also poisons her colleagues’ relationships with one another.
“That totally misrepresents who I am, what I believe, who my colleagues are, and how things work here, and I don’t want my name to be used to contribute to the problem, to continue a narrative that is lazy and inaccurate,” Hunt said.
In a statement to the Lincoln Journal Star, Jane Kleeb, chair of the Nebraska Democratic Party, said, “I, like many liberals, are pushing our Democratic Party constantly from the inside working to build the infrastructure and message across the state. We respect the choices of politicians to decide if our party fits them or not.”
Commenting on Hunt’s party switch, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) wrote on the new social media app BlueSky, “I think it’s brave — people often complain about the 2 party system, but it starts at the state level. She’s trying to educate people on [Nebraska’s system] and how their landscape allows for this. [In my opinion] most 3rd party [conversations] can be unserious [because] they don’t grapple [with] reality. So this is interesting to see.”
State Sen. Hunt has been one of several Nebraskan senators who have filibustered the so-called “Let Them Grow Act,” a law that would block minors from accessing gender-affirming care. Age-appropriate gender-affirming care is supported by major medical organizations like the American Medical Association, American Psychological Association, and American Academy of Pediatrics.
Hunt has been put under investigation by the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission (NADC) for a possible conflict of interest because she has a transgender child.
State law requires that public officials and employees disclose potential conflicts of interest, but this refers to when a decision could have “a financial benefit or detriment to the public official or public employee, a member of his or her immediate family or business with which he or she is associated.”
Hunt disavowed the investigation.
“This, colleagues, is not serious,” she said. “This is harassment. This is using the legal system that we have in our state to stop corruption, to increase transparency, to hold government accountable, and using it to harass a member of the legislature, who you all know is trying to do the right thing, is trying to parent her child in a way that keeps that child alive, in a way that keeps that child successful in school and with friends and healthy.”
Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers in Nebraska are standing up for Hunt. “My colleagues stood up offering support, but I don’t need their words. I need their vote,” she said.