Three Democrat Virginia sheriffs become Republicans over anti-police rhetoric

The shift in the sheriffs' parties comes after months of anti-police protests around the country.

Updated: June 4, 2021 - 10:27am

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A sheriff in Virginia's Smyth County has became the third in the state in roughly the past year to switch his party affiliation to Republican, citing anti-police rhetoric used by Democrats.

Chip Shuler was elected as county sheriff as a Democrat in 2015 and reelected in 2019. But last week Shuler announced he'd became a Republican, citing "the relentless attack on law enforcement by Democrats," according to WJHL-TV.

Adam Tolbert, the chairman of the Smyth County Republican Party, on Monday welcomed Shuler, congratulating his "bold move to leave the Democratic Party."

Tolbert said Shuler was the most recent Virginia sheriff to switch, the two other being John McClanahan of Buchanan County and Brian Hieatt of Tazewell County.

McClanahan said in a statement last year he can't "be associated with the National Democratic Party" because it backed laws that affect police, according to The Epoch Times.

Hieatt became a Republican in July 2020, during the height of the George Floyd protests. He said local Democratic leaders are good but that he had a problem with national Democrats who are "being easy on criminals, not the victims."

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