The Utah Republican party is welcoming former Democratic state representative Christine Watkins with open arms after her recent decision to join the GOP. Watkins, who has served her district near Price for four years, was considered a conservative democrat in the legislature and often sided with Republicans on issues like energy development. Utah Republican Party Chairman Thomas Wright says those shared values are some of the reasons why Watkins decided to make the switch.
“I think she looked at the platform and said, ‘hey I can represent all these values, in fact I already have been. Why not just be a Republican so people will take me at face value for representing them?,’" Wright says. "I think she’ll do quite well in the Republican party and we’re happy to have her.”
Democratic state representative Jennifer Seelig served with Watkins in minority leadership for the past two years. She says she’s disappointed with the decision.
“Well, when anyone leaves your team it is an unfortunate circumstance,” Seelig says.
Watkins was the last rural member of the Democratic caucus until losing her re-election bid to Republican Jerry Anderson.