Lawmaker Joins GOP After Losing Election

(KCPW News) Two term Representative Christine Watkins walked out of the state’s last legislative session as a Democrat, but she hopes to return to Capitol Hill as a Republican. Watkins, who represents Emery, Carbon and Duchesne Counties narrowly lost re-election in November largely in part because of redistricting, and Duchesne’s large Republican base.

“Finally I came to the realization that either I just stop and say I’m done and not run again; or give it one more shot and make this change,  become involved in the party and get to know the people that are there, and I decided that I wasn’t ready to give it up yet,” Watkins told KCPW.

Watkins was a Blue Dog Democrat at the Legislature and the last rural member of the Democratic caucus. She says the change won’t impact the way she votes, stating she sided with the GOP with a number of issues already.

“Even after I had been up there my first two sessions, a lot of Republicans came to me and said you’re almost more conservative than our most conservative here,” Watkins said. “And, very often I was voting with them because a lot of their issues deal with rural Utah and the resources we have and of course I am on the same page.”

Republican Jerry Anderson will replace Watkins in the House in the upcoming session, but Watkins says she is planning a run in 2014.