An elected Virginia sheriff is quitting the Democratic party, citing its “relentless attack on law enforcement.”
Smyth County Sheriff Chip Shuler, who has been twice elected as a Democrat, said he filed Monday to join the GOP — which his application unanimously accepted by the party, according to WJHL-TV.
“I am changing to the Republican Party because of the relentless attack on law enforcement by Democrats in Richmond and Washington,” Shuler said in a press release.
“My deputies work hard to serve and protect the citizens of Smyth County,” he said. “As sheriff, it has been difficult to watch my deputies try to move forward during this unprecedented assault on our profession.”
“We remain an honorable profession and should not be judged by the bad acts of a few,” Shuler added. “I have always been conservative throughout my law enforcement career of 38 years.”
Many US law enforcement agencies have been under pressure to scale back in the wake of last year’s police-custody death of George Floyd and other high-profile deaths and attacks by cops, primarily targeting black residents.
Shuler is the third sheriff in Southwest Virginia to respond by leaving the Democratic party — Tazewell County Sheriff Brian Hieatt and Buchanan County Sheriff John McClanahan dumped the party last year, WJHL said.
Shuler’s depature was met with open arms by Smyth County Republicans.
“I congratulate Sheriff Shuler on taking this bold move to leave the Democratic Party and join the Republican Party,” county GOP Chairman Adam Tolbert said. “We are thrilled to have him as a member of the Republican Party in Smyth County.”
Shuler was first elected in 2015 and re-elected in 2019, both times as a Democrat.