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Nebraska Democrat Who Stood Up for Trans Rights Leaves Party Over ‘Political Dysfunction’

What's in a name?

A photo of the state capital building in Lincoln Nebraska

Megan Hunt, a Democratic Nebraska State Senator whose political profile was bolstered recently by her fight to block anti-abortion and anti-trans rights bills moving through the state legislature, has announced she’s changing party affiliation. Although she has, until recently, been one of the most well-known Nebraska Democrats, Hunt points to depictions of high-intensity conflict among legislators, partisan coverage in the media, dysfunction, and corruption as her reasoning for changing her affiliation to “nonpartisan.”

“The parties are not the future,” Hunt said, according to reporting from The Lincoln Journal Star. “The political dysfunction is extreme and at the national level, the parties are ideologically bankrupt.” Hunt’s apparent disillusionment with the party system isn’t new, as she has spoken multiple times about her journey from conservatism to liberalism. In fact, she has been registered as a Republican, libertarian, independent, and Democrat before choosing to eschew affiliation altogether. 

It seems that it’s not Hunt’s politics that have changed most recently, as she said she still supports the progressive left. Rather, Hunt told the Journal Star that she’s upset about the way the Nebraska State Legislature, and her role in it, have been portrayed in the media. Nebraska’s state government is abnormal in that it has a one-chamber legislature, so party affiliation is less important than usual in how the state legislature functions. 

Hunt explained to the newspaper that the way national media has been framing her specifically as a Democrat pushing back against Republicans in her recent political efforts “…totally misrepresents who I am, what I believe, who my colleagues are, and how things work here, and I don’t want my name to be used to contribute to the problem.”

Some of the efforts she’s referencing include Hunt’s contribution to Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh’s three-week-long filibuster to stop a bill banning gender-affirming care for underage trans youth. Hunt has also come under investigation for what has been called a “conflict of interest” in her voting against LB574, the anti-trans healthcare bill, since she herself is raising a trans kid. Hunt said about the investigation, “This is harassment. This is using the legal system that we have in our state to stop corruption, to increase transparency, to hold governments accountable, and using it to harass a member of the legislature who you all know is trying to do the right thing, is trying to parent her child in a way that keeps that child alive.”

When you google a few of the keywords on these recent events concerning Hunt, you can definitely see how most major news outlets frame her as the Democrat waging war against Republicans—probably because she was a Democrat and 23 of the 24 sponsors of the anti-trans bill on the table are Republicans. (The complaint that sparked the ludicrous “conflict of interest” investigation was not filed by a colleague of either party, but by an Omaha attorney named David Begley.)

Still, if Hunt doesn’t want to engage with that narrative, fine, especially now that issue at play involves an investigation about her own child. If she is trying to break out of the binary party system that she says doesn’t really represent the way things are done in her workplace, switching her affiliation might accomplish at least a change in headline patterns if nothing else materially.

(featured image: skodonnell/Getty Images)

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