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Every vote counts. And this is a good one (or is he? see updates below).
Politico reports that Alabama Democrat Rep. Parker Griffith will switch parties today. He’s a defender of grass-roots activists who protested at town halls over the summer and a cancer doctor who passionately opposes a government health care takeover. Bring it on:
POLITICO has learned that Rep. Parker Griffith, a freshman Democrat from Alabama, will announce today that he’s switching parties to become a Republican.
According to a senior GOP aide familiar with the decision, the announcement will take place in this afternoon in his home district in northern Alabama.
Griffith’s party switch comes on the eve of a pivotal congressional health care vote and will send a jolt through a Democratic House Caucus that has already been unnerved by the recent retirements of a handful of members who, like Griffith, hail from districts that offer prime pickup opportunities for the GOP in 2010.
The switch represents a coup for House Republican leadership, which had been courting Griffith since he publicly criticized Democratic leadership in the wake of raucous town halls over the summer.
Griffith, who captured the seat in a close 2008 open seat contest, will become the first Republican to hold the historically Democratic, Huntsville-based district. A radiation oncologist who founded a cancer treatment center, Griffith plans to blast the Democratic health care bill as a prime reason for his decision to switch parties—and is expected to cite his medical background as his authority on the subject.
Rep. Griffith had signaled in August that he would not vote for Nancy Pelosi as speaker again.
Refreshing: A politician who will keep his promise.
The announcement comes on the heels of a wave of Blue Dog Democrat retirements.
Griffith’s GOP opponent attacked his medical record, but his bio looks most impressive.
He voted against the porkulus, cap and trade, and Demcare in the House.
But reader Rebecca e-mails with some on-the-ground insights from Alabama:
Parker Griffith DOES NOT passionately oppose government health care takeover. He voted for SCHIP, and you should have seen his campaign commercials – every one of them spoke of health care for all! He only changed his tune once the backlash for his vote for Pelosi as Speaker and the huge turn in local public opinion against government health care set in. You should have seen us at the April 15th Tea Party in Huntsville.
I live in Huntsville. I voted for Wayne Parker, a conservative Republican. I was sad to see that a Republican has never been elected to represent our congressional district. Griffith changing his party does not necessarily mean that it is a win for conservatives. He is a chameleon and afraid of losing his seat in ’10 to true conservatives. Give Mo Brooks or Les Philip a ring – two leading conservatives who will challenge him in the next election.
I agree this is a blow to the Democrats, but whether or not it will be a true win for conservatives remains to be seen. We deserve someone who is solidly conservative (not just when to polls tell them to be) – and honest!
Your humble admirer and loyal reader,
Alabama blogger Steve Boyett adds:
Making headlines across the valley is that Parker Griffith is changing parties. This is really not much of a surprise at all, because his internal polling was most likely telling him that he could not win as a democrat. So, the wolf in sheep’s clothing comes to mind. What I find more interesting will be how the RNCC will respond to this. Will they, in hopes of having an “R” on the roll, sell their principles and accept him, or will they recognize this strategy as one from a desperate moderate who is not good for our district.
Parker Griffith to hold press conference at 1 – but the real story will be the response of the established true conservative Les Phillip and the other republican candidate Mo Brooks.
Here’s Les Phillip’s campaign site. And his first ad:
From Phillip’s bio:
Les Phillip was born May 29, 1963, to Randolph and Elvina Phillip in the tiny Caribbean country of Trinidad – Tobago. The Family moved to St. Croix before immigrating to the United States.
After the plane ride from Trinidad to St. Croix, young Les was given a glimpse into his future. While traveling, he told his mother that he wanted to be a pilot. His mother accommodated her son’s aspiration by requesting that the pilot of their aircraft meet Les and explain to him what it would take to become a pilot someday. The pilot told Les to excel in math and science and fly in one of the branches of the U.S. military.
In 1971, the Phillip family came to the United States and settled in Baltimore, Maryland. Les graduated from Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, a public school, in the spring of 1981. That summer, he would pursue his childhood dream and enter the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. There, he met his wife, the former Merle Ford of Montclair, New Jersey. At the age of 26, Les achieved his goal and earned his Naval Aviator wings.
Over the next eight years, Les became the proud father of three wonderful daughters. He left the service in 1993 and pursued a career in the private sector. He and his wife currently own a business located in Madison, Alabama.
Les Phillip became involved in politics in 1984, just six years after becoming a naturalized citizen. While in the Naval Academy, he began developing his political identity, studying a pocket copy of the U.S. Constitution that he received via a Phillip Morris advertising campaign. He soon realized how far the government had moved away from the design laid out by the founding fathers of our country.
After becoming a parent and working in the private sector Les became concerned with the daily struggles of middle-class America. He came to the realization that life is not just about where you are going but what you leave behind to your children and grandchildren.The simple idea that his children might not enjoy the same America that he and his parents longed for in 1971 is what inspired Les to become a public servant.
Les came to this country with a dream, an American dream. He fulfilled his dream of becoming a Naval Aviator, serving our country proudly, marrying his college sweetheart, raising three beautiful daughters and even operating a successful business. His story is an American success story, one of the stories that so often go untold. He knows first-hand how great this country is and how much greater it can be. He believes that we need a leader, a voice that can rally others to join his cause.
And here is Alabama Republican Liberty Caucus Stephen Gordon’s welcome for Rep. Griffith:
From my perspective, this clearly shows there is blowback from the Democrat’s legislative overreach in DC. Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama are now having to pay a political price for shoving their agenda down our throats.
However, what seems to be a GOP victory at first may well become another liberal victory in the long term. Unless Parker Griffith starts voting like a true fiscal conservative, Alabama could be stuck with another entrenched big-government Republican congressman.
Welcome to the party, Parker. Here’s an electronic copy of the Constitution. Read it well, as you will have to continue to dodge us if you continue to disregard it.
Staunch GOP Sen. Jeff Sessions responds:
The following is a statement from U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions on Rep. Parker Griffith’s decision to switch to the Republican Party :
“I spoke with Parker this morning and congratulated him on this important decision. I believe his voting record and public statements on many important issues demonstrate an approach to government and spending that is incompatible with the national Democratic Party. As a Republican, he will be affirmed in his concerns about reckless spending and governmental overreach, rather than being ostracized for them. We welcome him with open arms.”