RedState and Club For Growth Target Griffith

Dave Wiegel notes that before the pixels were dry on the announcement that Rep. Parker Griffith had switched party affiliations, both RedState and the Club For Growth showed their disapproval.

redstate-logoHere’s Erick Erickson:

We should now hope him be an extremely endangered Republican in a primary. We will not fix the GOP’s problems if we keep allowing people who are not one of us to suddenly switch the letter next to their name and magically become one of us.

Being a Republican should be about more than just the letter next to a person’s name. We can improve that seat.

clubforgrowthAnd here’s more from the Club For Growth:

Griffith’s voting record is far from conservative, too. Granted, he voted against the Big 4 – Obama’s first budget, the Stimulus, Cap and Trade, and ObamaCare. However, his vote on the budget is slightly deceptive since he originally voted for 9 of the 12 spending bills that make up the budget. And he voted against all the Stimulus amendments that would reduce its size.


This party switch signals Griffith’s nervousness, but it doesn’t signal that his incumbency is safe.

I find this fascinating. Not because I’m surprised that RedState and Club For Growth are contemplating Republican candidates more suited to them, but that they’re doing it so fast and so publicly, without getting Griffith a chance to work with the Republican leadership and perhaps align himself more with the Party.

I think that if there’s a strong GOP primary challenger to Griffith that the GOP leadership doesn’t at least try to forestall, it’s only going to make conservative Democrats less likely to switch party affiliations. More to the point, it will help underscore the idea that the GOP is only interested in adhering to a narrow ideal of “purity” rather than pragmatic governance, which in turn will help strengthen the Democratic Party at its expense.

That doesn’t bode well for healthy, two-party democracy.

FILED UNDER: 2010 Election, Congress, Democracy, US Politics, , , ,
Alex Knapp
About Alex Knapp
Alex Knapp is Associate Editor at Forbes for science and games. He was a longtime blogger elsewhere before joining the OTB team in June 2005 and contributed some 700 posts through January 2013. Follow him on Twitter @TheAlexKnapp.


  1. As I mentioned in the comments to James’ post, I grew up in that district and my parents and in-laws still live there.

    I’m not at all surprised that they’re moving against him so quickly. That district has been Democrat since Reconstruction, BUT…

    It’s a mighty big “but” here.

    Griffith barely won in 2008 (52%-48%) – a number that should be regarded as much closer than it seems, for the following reasons:

    1) He carried the endorsement of just about every major political figure in the 5th District (most local offices are Democratic, a pattern that is not at all uncommon in the South) and all of the local and state media.

    2) Related to #1, he carried the endorsement of his predecessor, Congressman Bud Cramer – a man who was EXTREMELY well respected and highly popular within the district. There are a lot of voters out there (like my dad) who basically voted for him for this reason alone.

    3) His opponent, Wayne Parker, has never been very popularly locally. Keep in mind that Wayne Parker couldn’t even defeat a relatively new Democrat in 1994 during the Republican Revolution – a time when theoretically he should have had every possible advantage. His popularity has only declined since then. The fact that he even managed 48% of the vote is amazing and testament to the fact that enthusiasm for Griffith is low.

    I’ve been thinking about this all afternoon, and I think that most of the news reports are nationalizing this way too much. At the end of the day, I suspect that Griffith’s defection comes down to exactly one thing: defense spending. Major defense spending cuts are coming down the pipeline, and they’re hitting North Alabama hard – in a time of recession, no less.

    More than anything else, I think he’s trying to distance himself from a Democratic Party that has directly hurt the local economy (intentionally or not) at a particularly inopportune time. I don’t think it’ll be enough. Come November, I expect the locals will be blaming the incumbent for the loss of jobs. In fact, I’m beginning to think his party switch may hurt him – this gives the voters a chance to continue voting for a Blue Dog Democrat AND vote against the incumbent.

    Simultaneously, he’s going to face a hard fight in the primaries. Republicans don’t really like him, and there are some rather serious allegations of professional misconduct in his previous career as a doctor that will probably carry more weight when the Democrats, previously on his side, pull them back out into the light.

    As much as I hate to say it (being someone who is not at all fond of our current Congress and would like to see something game changing), this strikes me as the flail of a desperate man.

  2. PD Shaw says:

    Interesting insights, Mr. Newquist. Sometimes politics is local.

  3. yetanotherjohn says:

    I don’t often agree with Alex, but here I do. There are districts that trend gop or dem. The stronger they tend gop, the more it makes sense to get as ‘pure’ a member as possible (leaving aside the definition of pure). But this is a district that trends dem. As such, if he does nothing more than vote in organization with the gop, he has done enough.
    Let red state and cfg focus on primary challenges where the seat is safe. Get a track record of accomplishments. Don’t shoot the first guy to change sides in what has the potential to be a strong year for the gop in order to encourage the others.
    If pelosi returns as speaker by one vote, I wonder if rs or cfg will stand up and admit their part?

  4. Alex Knapp says:


    I appreciate your insight into this. My criticism here isn’t the merits of Griffith as a candidate, but rather the sheer speed at which two GOP base organizations decided that he just wasn’t “pure” enough. That’s what I find unhealthy.

  5. Sorry, Alex, I should have been more clear that I agree with you that the speed is somewhat problematic… except that I suspect things aren’t moving as fast as they appear. Griffith didn’t just wake up this morning and decide to switch. I guarantee you he’s been talking to people on both sides about this, negotiating for whatever seems best for him (either that or he’s even stupider than I think he is).

    Also, he really built up a LOT of animosity from conservatives during the election – even centrist conservatives. This election really was an example of voters holding their noses and voting for the lesser of two evils, which is extra sad considering how much appeal his predecessor, Bud Cramer, had across the entire political spectrum. Also… they play hardball politics down here in the south, and always have. I’m not fond of it, just saying that it doesn’t really surprise me.

  6. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Well Alex, look what not sticking to our principles got us the last few election cycles. The left certainly remains loyal to theirs and thrash anyone who does not toe the line. case in point is Joe Lieberman. Do I detect a double standard?

  7. Alex Knapp says:

    Joe Lieberman isn’t a Democrat. He’s an independent. He lost his primary challenge but won the general. Since he’s left the party, he’s caused nothing but trouble for the Democrats.

    Which, I think, proves my point.

  8. kth says:

    Strange reaction from the RedState folks. Ambivalence, distance, suspicion would have been natural enough, especially if (as the first post suggests) this may be nothing more than a desperation gambit from someone willing to change his affiliation but not his priorities. But cold stiff-arming Griffith is probably unwise of the activists.

    As a somewhat liberal Democrat, I was mildly disappointed in Griffith’s defection (only mildly so because in conservative precincts a lot of these defections will be unavoidable). The hostility from the RedState camp and similar quarters represents something of a silver lining.