Nebraska State Sen. Mike McDonnell (R-5) announced he is fleeing the Democrat party to become a Republican, giving the GOP what U.S. Sen. Pete Ricketts (R-NE) calls a “filibuster-proof majority” in Nebraska’s unicameral legislature.

McDonnell’s party change bears major implications for local and national politics as the state is on the verge of moving to a winner-take-all electoral vote allocation system for presidential elections.

The state currently has a split electoral vote awarding system that gives “two electoral votes to the state popular vote winner, and then one electoral vote to the popular vote winner in each congressional district,” as Newsweek’s Natalie Venegas pointed out.

The Associated Press

Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen, left, and former Gov. Pete Ricketts laugh at a joke during the announcement of a new senator to Nebraska’s open senate seat on January 12, 2023, at Nebraska State Capitol in Lincoln. (Kenneth Ferriera/Lincoln Journal Star via AP)

In 2020, former President Donald Trump won a majority of support in the state but did not win all electoral votes. He earned five, while one went to President Joe Biden. In a winner-take-all system where Trump earns a majority of the overall vote, he would carry all electoral votes.

Gov. Jim Pillen (R-NE) backs conservative-led legislation to change to a winner-take-all allocation system, and McDonnell’s addition to the GOP provides key insurance against a filibuster in the unicameral, as Ricketts pointed out.

“I am pleased to welcome Senator Mike McDonald to the Republican Team. The extreme new Democrats are pushing common-sense officials and voters to our party,” Ricketts said in a statement, emphasizing that the move establishes a “filibuster-proof Republican majority in the unicameral.”

“This timing heading into a Presidential election is an awesome opportunity to mobilize our Republican majority to a winner-take-all system and put one more electoral vote in the Republican column for 2024!” he added.

WOWT’s Gina Dvorak noted that McDonnell’s departure from the Democratic Party comes after the party censured him in March. In the lead-up to the censure, he had bucked the party line by voting with Republicans on transgender and abortion-related issues, per the article.

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