A former Florida state representative and Republican activist has left the GOP over immigration policy.
Ana Rivas Logan will officially become a Democrat Monday afternoon when she files paperwork at the Miami-Dade Elections Department.
Rivas Logan, an educator who was born in Nicaragua after her parents fled Cuba, said one of the reasons she is switching parties is because she was pressured by current Lt. Governor Carlos Lopez-Cantera to support an Arizona-style immigration law when it surfaced in Florida in 2011.
"The GOP of today is not the party I joined; it's not the party of my parents," Rivas Logan said in a statement. "It's a party that has been radicalized and held hostage by a group of extremists. It's a party that attacks women and minorities -- and one that asked me, and my former Hispanic Republican colleagues in the Florida legislature, to turn on their own people by supporting extreme anti-immigrant policies. It's a party I was no longer proud to be a part of."
Rivas Logan served on the Miami-Dade County school board before heading to Tallahassee in 2010. She lost a nasty re-election primary in 2012 after redistricting shuffled her into the same district as another incumbent Republican. Miami-Dade GOP chair Nelson Diaz suggested her switch was motivated by a desire to regain office.
"In recent months she has been meeting with [Miami-Dade Democratic Party Chair and FDP Vice-Chair] Annette Taddeo because she is desperate to return to be a candidate," Diaz told El Nuevo Herald in remarks translated by The Huffington Post.
If so, Rivas Logan will have to wait a year to run for office, the paper reports.
In the meantime, South Florida Democrats are trumpeting the move.
"Her story is a powerful testament to just how far right the GOP has drifted and how many communities it has alienated — especially women and Hispanics," said DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Shultz. "Republicans promised to change their ways following the 2012 election, but instead have doubled down on the same far right policies that drive away voters and public servants like Ana. And particularly in Florida -- where, again and again, Republican leaders have taken a hard line against the state's most underserved people purely for political gain -- we are proud that Ana is standing up to say, enough is enough."
She won't be alone. In addition to former Florida Governor Charlie Crist, who left the GOP and is now running for his old job as a Democrat, the state's former Hispanic outreach director for the Republican Party defected last May. Like Rivas Logan, Pablo Pantoja cited issued surrounding immigration when he announced he had become a Democrat.
"It doesn’t take much to see the culture of intolerance surrounding the Republican Party today. I have wondered before about the seemingly harsh undertones about immigrants and others," he wrote, adding that "The discourse that moves the Republican Party is filled with this anti-immigrant movement and overall radicalization that is far removed from reality."
UPDATE, 3 p.m.: At a press conference Monday afternoon, Rivas Logan ripped up her Republican voter registration:
Ana Rivas Logan rompen su tarjeta para votar del partido republicano y se cambia al democrata@elnuevoherald pic.twitter.com/m7iGt7XG4j
— hgabino (@hgabino) February 10, 2014
Proud to be a member of a compassionate party. Today I became a Democrat!
— Ana Rivas Logan (@anarivaslogan) February 10, 2014