The Senate wasn’t the only political player bracing for a party switch on Tuesday.
Ben Carson, the pediatric neurosurgeon turned conservative sensation after he confronted President Obama at a prayer breakfast last year, used Election Day to officially change his party affiliation from independent back to Republican, moving yet another step closer to a possible 2016 presidential run.
Mr. Carson, who grew up poor in Detroit and rose to success as a doctor at Johns Hopkins University Hospital in Maryland, made the paperwork change in his new home state of Florida. He filed the paperwork in Palm Beach County.
“It’s truly a pragmatic move because I have to run in one party or another. If you run as an independent, you only risk splitting the electorate,” Mr. Carson told The Washington Times in an interview Tuesday night shortly after making the change. “I clearly would not be welcome in the Democratic Party, and so that only leaves one party.
“Fortunately, the fit is pretty good,” he added. “I believe in reasonable sized government. I believe in personal responsibility. I believe in individual freedom. And I believe in creating an environment to let free markets grow our economy. And all of that is very consistent with being a Republican.”
Mr. Carson said he grew up a Democrat but switched his party affiliation to Republican in the 1980s after listening to Ronald Reagan.
“Like most Democrats who were black I was told most Republicans were evil, racist people. But then I started listening to Ronald Reagan and I thought God it just makes so much sense. Let me investigate this,” said Mr. Carson, who writes a column for The Washington Times.
Mr. Carson said he switched to being an independent about 15 to 20 years ago after getting a “sour taste” watching Republicans who had their own personal foibles impeach President Clinton over an extramarital affair. “I just saw so much hypocrisy in both parties,” he explained.
Mr. Carson said it made sense to make his party switch now, well before he decides next spring whether to run for the White House.
“If I make the decision to run, then I clearly don’t want to be backtracking and do something in a hurry. It’s one of those things I wanted to be thinking about far ahead.”
• Mr. Carson is a columnist for The Washington Times.