Louisiana Congressman Switches to GOP at Last Minute
On Wednesday, conservative freshman Congressman Rodney Alexander of Louisiana filed for re-election as a Democrat. “I’m not ashamed to be a Democrat, but I vote what I think the people of the 5th District want me to represent,” said Alexander at the time. What a difference two days can make. On Friday, with just minutes remaining before the close of filing, Alexander returned to re-file for re-election as a Republican. “I just decided it would be best for me to switch parties, that I would be more effective in the Fifth District in the state of Louisiana as a Republican,” he now says. Alexander flirted with changing parties back in March, but announced then that he would not do so. “I’d be letting some people down who worked very hard for me and I would hate to let anybody down … Although I am flattered by the offers of the Republicans to join their ranks, I am deciding to stay where I am,” said Alexander in March. US Senator John Breaux (D) — who was key in helping Alexander win his first election to Congress two years ago — quickly denounced Alexander as “a confused politician who has placed loyalty at the very bottom of his priorities.” Reaction on the GOP side was much warmer. “I welcome him to the GOP, and I look forward to working with Rodney,” said NRCC Chair Tom Reynolds. “Rodney Alexander has betrayed voters in Louisiana … We have no use for turncoats like Rodney Alexander in the new Democratic majority,” said a DCCC spokesperson. Because of the last minute timing of the switch — a move Breaux called a deceptive move that “effectively prevented the people of his district from a having a choice” — Democrats, who had been raising money for Alexander, had no viable candidate to place into the race. Alexander is now a safe bet to win re-election this year — but watch for national Dems to target him for defeat in two years.
While this isn’t in the same league as making the switch after a party has already elected you, it’s still a rather slimy thing to do. No material fact of which I’m aware has changed in the last few years, let alone since Wednesday, would lead one to be confused as to which party was more conservative. I agree that Alexander would be more influential as a Republican, in that the GOP figures to retain the House majority. But, again, that was knowable on Wednesday as well.