Va. GOP member resigns, renounces party citing anti-immigrant sentiment

WASHINGTON — A Republican activist and party member from Northern Virginia has resigned from and renounced the GOP, calling President Trump’s vulgar comments on Haiti and African countries “the last straw.”

Kyle McDaniel released a public letter of resignation, addressed to GOP Chairman John Whitbeck and Chair of the 11th District Committee, Paul Prados. In it, he describes what he calls the Republican party’s submission to nativism and anti-immigrant sentiment.

“I held my tongue for too long; hoping things would improve. I was wrong. I can no longer stomach those who support nativism, or their apologists and enablers. After a decade of work in the Republican Party in Northern Virginia, it is time for me to step away,” McDaniel wrote in the letter.

McDaniel joined the Virginia Republican party in 2008, and was elected to serve on the state party’s board of directors in 2016. In his letter, McDaniel describes trying to lead the Republican party back to “compassionate conservatism” and away from nativism with “racial and religious overtones.”

Although he said he sensed that kind of rhetoric gaining power over the party — at first in the form of standing up to illegal immigration — he decided to wait and see how the party would evolve, but said the antagonism toward immigrants just became worse.

“As it’s evolved under the president, it’s not just anti-illegal immigrant — his comments about Haitian refugees completely capture and prove that this is not just about illegal immigration, this is a fundamental desire to not have certain people in our country based on where they happen to have been born, I fundamentally disagree with that assertion, so that’s why I resigned,” McDaniel told WTOP.

McDaniel, who is a real estate agent in West Springfield, Virginia, said he is a political independent for the foreseeable future, regardless of the effect that might have on his future in public office.

“There comes a point when I have to look at myself in the mirror every morning and that outweighs any political calculation that I could possibly make,” McDaniel said.

McDaniel has been to Haiti twice with his church, and said he and his wife are considering adopting a Haitian child.

“Interacting with the people that live there and working alongside them and hearing their stories — I tell you, I’d take a lot of them over some people that I know any day of the week because of their work ethic, their principles, their dedication to trying to make a better life for themselves,” McDaniel said of Haitians.

The fallout from McDaniel’s departure from the party has been mostly positive, he said, but there have been some who wished he hadn’t gone public with his concerns.

“The couple of exceptions have been on the line of, ‘Well, you should just keep this in the family,’ or ‘You shouldn’t go public with this,’ and I fundamentally disagree because the best solution to these problems is sunshine, it’s not more darkness. Darkness just ferments the rot that’s caught hold in the party,” he said.

Despite his rift with the party, McDaniel said he still believes the GOP can come back from this with soul searching, confronting its internal issues, and standing up against racism in its ranks — even if it costs the GOP some votes in the process.

He ends his letter with a call for the GOP to return to its roots.

“The party has lost its way from the days when Ronald Reagan reaffirmed the United States as a shining city on the hill,” McDaniel wrote in his letter. “That is our country’s heritage, not a walled-off nation turning a blind eye to, and mocking, the human suffering on our door step.”

WTOP’s Dick Uliano contributed to this report.

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