Unhappiness with both major parties drove Jette to change his voter registration.
“Both parties are sinking Titanics,” he said.
His name will still appear on the ballot as a Democrat, said Matt Roberts, spokesman for the Arizona Secretary of State’s office, and no law prevents him from changing party registration now.
Jette ran as a Republican against Gov. Jan Brewer in the 2010 primary. He beat out another Democrat in August for the right to take on GOP Rep. David Schweikert in the November general election.
Republicans have a 42 percent to 24 percent registration edge over Democrats in the district, which includes Scottsdale, Paradise Valley and parts of Phoenix. Another 33 percent are independents, but the district is considered strongly Republican.
Jette said he changed his registration Thursday morning. The Maricopa County Elections Department could not immediately confirm that because Thursday’s registrations hadn’t yet been processed, spokeswoman Yvonne Reed said.
Jette has only a few thousand dollars in his campaign accounts and faces a steep uphill battle to beat a well-funded candidate like Schweikert. But he said his decision might draw some disaffected members of the GOP.
“We’ve just given Republicans who are not happy with their party and not happy with their candidate a place to go vote,” Jette said. “They’re not voting for a Democrat, they’re voting for Matt.”
Jette said he simply found no place in either party for his views, which he called fiscally conservative and socially liberal.
“You can’t be a fiscal conservative and be a Democrat,” Jette said. “You can’t call for lower taxes, you can’t say, ‘hey, maybe I want some regulations cut,’ and be a Democrat.
“On the other side, you can’t be a social liberal, and want government to protect rights and out of your bedroom, your marriage, your home, without being a Democrat,” he said.
Schweikert could not immediately be reached for comment.
Jette has never held elective office. He is an adjunct business professor at the Thunderbird School of Global Management.