(WBRE/WYOU) — A political bombshell was dropped Tuesday when a longtime Democrat lawmaker switched parties.
Senator John Yudichak is now an independent. The news has people talking and asking questions about what it could mean to northeastern Pennsylvania and the commonwealth.
Without a doubt, this news stunned many people. Yudichak has been what you might call a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat. But he tells Eyewitness News he felt that he just had to make a change because of what he sees is a toxic political environment in Washington and Harrisburg.
“The best thing he ever did. I mean to be on his own that’s great,” Stuart Fenner of Nanticoke said.
Stuart and Pauline Fenner stopped for a coffee at a donut shop in Nanticoke. They heard about the Yudichak party switch first thing Wednesday morning.
“Well, it was this morning on the news. I thought well that’s good. I hope it will be very good for the people,” Pauline Fenner said.
“Well, I don’t think that anybody that knows me and knows my heart is shocked by the decision,” Yudichak said.
Eyewitness News spoke to Yudichak on the phone. He is in Harrisburg now for the first time in 21 years as an independent. He served as a state representative for 12 years and the past nine as a senator.
“I’ve been very frustrated with both Washington D.C and Harrisburg forgetting about the people of northeastern Pennsylvania and specifically Luzerne and Carbon Counties where I represent the 14th Senatorial District,” Yudichak said.
Yudichak has a history of reaching across the aisle to get things done in northeastern Pennsylvania. He says that will not change, but he says he will work to change political attitudes in D.C. and Harrisburg.
“We need to stop demonizing the other side because they happen to be a Democrat or Republican. We got to get back about being about people making government work for the people,” Yudichak said.
The chairman of the Democratic Party in Luzerne County, John Pekarovsky, reacted to Yudichak’s decision saying: “He has been a great help to me over the years and I am disappointed I will no longer be able to work with him to continue building our local Democratic organization.”
Jason Croughn runs a barbershop in Nanticoke. He is confident that Yudichak’s decision is in the best interest of the people of the region.
“Well I think John is doing a great job either way..so whatever he decides to do he’s going out of his way as well as Mullery to make it better for all of us whatever decision I’m backing him all the way,” Croughn said.
Eyewitness News reached out to Republican party leaders in northeastern Pennsylvania as well as Governor Wolf. We have not yet heard back.
Yudichak’s party switch means he is the only independent in the state senate. He is up for re-election in three years. The Republicans still maintain the majority in the Senate 27 to 21.