Parker Griffith Switching to Republican Party
Will Collier passed on the rumor earlier this morning, noting, “That north Alabama seat has been Democratic since time immemorial.” This got a “Whoa” from Stephen Green and a snarky “Guess he’s probably a no on health care” from Josh Marshall.
Politico‘s Josh Kraushaar reckons that “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.”
I tend to agree with Matt Yglesias that “The practical implications of this seem to be basically nil—Griffith voted against health reform, voted against the clean energy bill, voted against financial regulatory reform, voted against the stimulus, and at least talked about voting against making Nancy Pelosi speaker.”
Still, he correctly notes, “the implications are still bad. People rarely volunteer to join the minority.” He sees it as “a reminder that the Democrats’ current huge majority with 257 members isn’t remotely sustainable. To get a majority that big you need to win a lot of districts you just can’t reliable win. Substantial losses in 2010 and/or 2012 are basically inevitable.”
Kraushaar adds, “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. ”
Of course, the seat has been held consistently by a Democrat since 1866. But that’s a bit of a red herring. There was virtually no such thing as a Republican in Alabama until the mid-1980s. Bud Kramer held the seat from 1991 until this year, following Ronnie Flippo, who’d held the seat since 1977. Let’s just say that neither of them was exactly a Nancy Pelosi Democrat.
Interestingly, Griffith was “the first Board Certified Radiation Oncologist in North Alabama.”