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Connecticut’s “Morning Joe” cutting ties with Republican Party

July 13, 2017 GMT

His name was once bandied about for governor and U.S. Senate.

Flash back to Cleveland last July, and there was Joe Scarborough obligingly taking selfies with fellow Republicans from Connecticut.

But that was then, and this is now. The MSNBC “Morning Joe” host, former congressman and New Canaan resident is leaving the GOP, telling Stephen Colbert on his CBS late night show Tuesday that his party has sold its soul to Donald Trump.

Connecticut’s top Republican tried Wednesday to tamp down Scarborough’s split with the party, despite it being the top trending topic on Twitter.

“The state of Connecticut has so much more to be concerned about than Joe Scarborough,” said J.R. Romano, the state GOP chairman. “Right now on my list of priorities, it doesn’t really rank. I understand that this is a about a personal beef.”

Romano was referring to Trump’s recent Twitter insults of Scarborough and his fiancee and co-host, Mika Brzezinski, whom the president referred to as “Psycho Joe” and “Crazy Mika,” in addition to mocking Brzezinski’s appearance.

NBC said Wednesday that Scarborough was not available for interviews.

In a joint appearance with Brzezinski on Colbert’s show, Scarborough said Republicans have “betrayed their core values” and sat idly during the presidential race as Trump proposed a ban on Muslim immigrants, feigned knowledge of David Duke and the Ku Klux Klan and criticized a judge for his Mexican heritage.

“Time and time and time again, they turned the other way, and it’s actually disgusting,” Scarborough said. “You have to ask yourself, what exactly is the Republican Party willing to do? How far are they willing to go? How much of this country and our values are they willing to sell out?”

That’s when Colbert asked Scarborough if he still considered himself a Republican.

“I am a Republican, but I’m not gonna be a Republican anymore,” Scarborough said. “I’ve got to become an independent.”

As of Wednesday afternoon, Scarborough was still registered as a Republican, said Joan McLaughlin, the town’s GOP registrar of voters. It’s unclear whether Scarborough will join the ranks of unaffiliated voters — the largest voter bloc in Connecticut — or whether he will join the Independent Party.

A request for comment was left Wednesday with the White House press office.

Scarborough isn’t the first prominent Republican with ties to the state to disavow Trump. Last year, former longtime Congressman Christopher Shays drew the ire of the Trump wing of the party by voting for Hillary Clinton. A faction of GOP leaders even proposed stripping Shays of the state party’s highest honor, the Prescott Bush Award, named for the late Bush family patriarch and U.S. senator.

“Are you asking me if I’m putting a ban on (Scarborough)? Come on, now,” Romano said.

Just two years ago, at the GOP’s annual fundraising dinner in Stamford, it was Scarborough who received some of the loudest applause after the event’s headliner, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.

“Joe, I don’t know if you know this, but ‘Morning Joe’ is the pregame show in the Senate gym,” Rubio said then.

On the floor of the Quicken Loans Arena last July, Scarborough schmoozed with Trump delegates from Connecticut during the Republican National Convention and posed for photos. Among them was Kevin Moynihan, a member of Trump’s national finance committee during the campaign and transition who is running for first selectman. A request for comment was left Wednesday for Moynihan.

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