Republican-turned-Democratic candidate Jason Thigpen at the U.S.S. North Carolina. Via Jason Thigpen/Flickr.
Republican-turned-Democratic candidate Jason Thigpen at the U.S.S. North Carolina. Via Jason Thigpen/Flickr.
Republican-turned-Democratic candidate Jason Thigpen at the U.S.S. North Carolina.
Via Jason Thigpen/Flickr.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A Republican candidate in North Carolina’s coastal Third Congressional District has decided to switch his party affiliation to the Democratic Party, citing a growing “extremist movement in the GOP.”

Jason Thigpen had intended to run against incumbent U.S. Rep. Walter Jones in next spring’s Republican primary. He’ll now run as a Democrat. He made the announcement Thursday on his campaign website.

“I simply cannot stand with a Party where its most extreme element promote hate and division amongst people,” Thigpen wrote. “Nothing about my platform has, nor will it change. The government shutdown was simply the straw that broke the camels back. I guess being an American just isn’t good enough anymore and I refuse to be part of an extremist movement in the GOP that only appears to thrive on fear and hate mongering of anyone and everyone who doesn’t walk their line.”

Thigpen, 36, is an Army veteran and received the Purple Heart. In May, he graduated from the University of North Carolina-Wilmington. He lives in Holly Ridge. He has a wife and four children.

“I didn’t go to war to defend the liberties and freedoms of one Party, race, sex, or one income class of Americans,” Thigpen said. “Whether white, black, Hispanic, Asian, man, woman, gay, lesbian, straight, rich, or poor – we fought together as equals, side-by-side for the benefit of every American in the same.”

Thigpen continued, “So, to come home from serving our country and see North Carolina legislators using their super-majority status to gerrymander districts and pass a law to deliberately suppress and oppress the voting rights of Democrats but more specifically minorities and college students, is absolutely deplorable. This same group of spineless legislators piggybacked a motorcycle safety bill with legislation intentionally geared to shut down women’s health clinics because of their ‘right righteous’ beliefs on abortion, while then cutting funding to the programs which help feed and provide healthcare to the babies they invariably forced the same women to have. Sounds like the Christian thing to do, huh?”

Thigpen has bucked his party before. Earlier this year, according to The News & Observer and The Fayetteville Observer, Thigpen said the state GOP’s voter identification law was discriminatory and would suppress the vote.

In March, Thigpen wrote on his campaign website that the Constitution protected LGBT rights.

“For any American who wants to share their life with, have a civil union with, or wants to marry someone of the same sex…it’s your right to choose to do so,” Thigpen wrote. “I’ve fought to protect the freedoms’ of EVERY American and as long as God’s willing, I will continue to.”

He added, “The intent of our Constitution is fair to EVERY American, regardless of:  faith, color, education, social status, party affiliation, or whom someone chooses to share their life with, whether a man or woman.”

Thigpen’s full statement can be read on his campaign website.


Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.

3 replies on “Candidate drops GOP ‘extremist movement,’ to become Democrat”

  1. Former Democrat Jason Thigpen was never a Republican. Besides the fact that he had never participated in a single Republican event in our District… ever. He doesn’t know the first thing about economics or monetary policy. He never made anything but fluffy emotional appeals that had little basis in fact. He didn’t demonstrate the first step in knowledge about individual liberty versus collectivism.

    He just ran as a Republican first so that he could make a show of switching to Democrat (but that was probably hastened by the fact that Karl Rove crony Taylor Griffin got into the Republican primary race). Thigpen was a Democrat the whole time. The only politician Thigpen ever supported was Democrat Mike McIntyre.

    For months I asked him about positions on policies, and he never answered a single one. Gave some vague appeal to doing what the people wanted to him do and attacked one of the leading opponents of the un-Constitutional wars left in the House today!

    Thigpen was a sham to begin with. If he even wins the Democrat primary I’d be surprised and if he doesn’t he’ll lose to Jones as massively as Erik Anderson did.

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