87-Year-Old New Jersey State Senator Says He Is Leaving GOP To Become A Democrat

A New Jersey state senator says he is leaving the Republican Party to become a Democrat as he seeks re-election this year.

Samuel Thompson, an 87-year-old who has been a state senator for more than a decade, claims he made the decision because GOP leaders “abandoned” him. He says ageism is to blame.

“Do I want to stay with people that want to cut my throat like that?” he told reporters, according to the New Jersey Globe, which described the senator as being a conservative who is pro-life, pro-gun, and a supporter of former President Donald Trump.

Thompson said the GOP chairman in Middlesex County, which takes up part of the state senator’s legislative district, suggested he was “too old and might die in office.”

The chairman, Rob Bengivenga, denied making those comments, per the New Jersey Monitor. However, Bengivenga did indicate the party was interested in getting a fresh face into the state Senate.

“I was hoping the Senator would embrace it and work together as a mentor and advisor for the years to come,” he said in an emailed statement reported by the Associated Press.

Earlier this month, Old Bridge Mayor Owen Henry, 63, announced he would compete against Thompson in the June GOP primary for New Jersey’s 12th legislative district.

It’s unclear what the Democrats’ primary field will look like, but members of the party celebrated the prospect of adding to their majority in the state Senate.

“The Democratic Party has always been a big tent party, and I welcome Senator Thompson to our ranks,” said Governor Phil Murphy.

Despite the party swap, Thompson insists that he won’t change his voting habits.

“I am not a liberal; I’d put myself as a moderate conservative,” Thompson said. “I will continue to vote the way that I vote – that is to say, from a moderate conservative position … I just got done meeting with the Democrats, and we didn’t seem to have any problems.”

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