Thousands have switched political parties or dropped affiliation since Capitol riots
ORLANDO, Fla. - Since the riots in the U.S. Capitol, thousands of local Republicans have switched parties.
Nef Martinez is one of them. He had been a registered Republican since 1983. He said he was never a huge supporter of President Donald Trump, but the violence in the Capitol Building on Jan. 6 was the last straw.
"Then, with this you know, I just didn't want to be identified as a Republican anymore. That was too far to one side. I decided I just better be an independent and vote where I will," Martinez said.
Martinez said he watched with horror as the rioters ran through the Halls of Congress.
"Really nothing to think about. I have nothing to do with that, I don't want to have anything to even be close to that disorder and chaos and I didn't know where it was going to end. But I said it's not my party I don't recognize them," Martinez said.
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The numbers show that other Republicans from across Central Florida felt the same.
We obtained the figures from Orange, Brevard, Volusia, Lake, Marion, Sumter, Osceola, Flagler, and Alachua counties. In all, Republicans lost triple-digit registrations in each county from Jan. 6 to Jan. 19, totaling 3,801 across them all. By comparison, Democrats had mostly double-digit registration losses in each county for that same period, totaling 646 altogether.
We asked prominent local Democrats and Republicans to sound off.
"Every day, Floridians and Americans do feel disconnected from these political labels, and I think it's part of a larger discussion of the two-party system as a whole," said State Rep. Anna Eskamani, a prominent Orlando Democrat.
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"People have strong opinions on all sides on all issues in this. I don't argue with voters. I try to encourage voters to vote," said Charles Hart, Orange County GOP Chair.
Martinez said he had rarely flown his American flag since Trump took office. He said maybe now was the right time to put it back out.
"I just didn't want to identify with it," he said, "they seem to have stolen the flag like it's theirs. It's not theirs. The flag belongs to all of us."
Election officials said anyone changing parties needed to remember that you need to register with a party 30 days before the primary elections if you intend to vote in one.
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