Bill Bennett has been a rock-ribbed Republican since he supported Dwight Eisenhower in 1956. Four decades of carrying a badge and a gun for the city police department fortified his GOP allegiance—until last year.
Ohio’s Republican leaders a year ago sponsored a law that stripped most collective-bargaining rights from 400,000 state and local workers, including police, firefighters and teachers. Angry voters overturned the law in a November referendum, 62% to 38%.
Some Ohioans applauded the GOP for taking on what they considered a bloated and unaffordable government. Others, including Mr. Bennett, began to re-examine their relationship with the Republican Party.
“There’s a right way and a wrong way to do things, and the Republicans mostly get that,” the 73-year-old Mr. Bennett said. “They’ve always been honest and straight ahead, but this was neither.”