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Party-Switching In The South

November 23, 2010
tags: party switch
by Brett

Generally when we see elections that result in major shifts in power, we will subsequently see party-switching not long after. Although he waited about a year after Republicans won control of Congress in 1994, former Rep. Mike Parker changed parties in the old Fourth District. Parker wasn’t the only one.

We are seeing similar stories this year, on the state level so far.

- In Georgia (here and here), where Republicans expanded their majority in both houses on November 2, five Democrats- mainly from rural Georgia (once a stronghold of conservative Democrats) have switched parties to give the GOP a near supermajority in the state House.

- In Alabama, where Republicans recently won a majority in both houses for the first time since Reconstruction, four Democrats switched parties yesterday to join the Republican majority.

- And in Louisiana, a state Representative has changed parties in a move that will give the GOP a majority in the state House for the first time in modern history.

We have seen three Democrats change parties in the Mississippi House since their last election in 2007. If Republicans were to win a number of seats in the body next year, I wouldn’t be shocked to see some party-switchers shortly after.

15 Comments leave one →
  1. Grizz permalink
    November 23, 2010 11:24 am

    This is gr8 news of course,however,Conservatives must remain vigilant on them,as they
    switched once,it shows their loyalties switch with the winds of change,and this move of course is one of self preservation in employment.

  2. Amber permalink
    November 23, 2010 5:06 pm

    Hey Brett, would the outcome have been different if Childers would have switched parties in the fall of 2009? How much was the election in MS-01 about anti-incumbent or was it anti-Democrat or something else?

    • November 23, 2010 5:22 pm

      I think it was anti-Democrat/ anti-Pelosi/ anti-Obama.

      Childers couldn’t have switched parties because he never would have won a GOP primary. It would have been a lot like Parker Griffith in Alabama. He switched, then lost the primary. Same thing happened with Arlen Specter but in reverse in that case.

      If someone like Gene Taylor had switched parties last fall I imagine he could have won. The GOP wasn’t seriously contesting the race at that time, and I doubt Palazzo would have got in it. I think the state and nat’l party would have backed Gene in that case, and since so many R’s usually voted for Taylor in the general they would just be voting for him in the primary.

      • Gloria permalink
        November 23, 2010 7:10 pm

        Brett, Amber, Why should this matter, No one could have been there for his district any more than Gene Taylor, he stood strong for his people on the coast after the worst storm to hit in your life time, I can not for the life of me see where anyone could have voted against him, as a Democrat he probally was able to get more help for the coast and for sure he had more influence than most and for sure Steve as a long way to go before he can fill those shoes.

  3. Amber permalink
    November 23, 2010 5:35 pm

    MS-01 never seemed to have a “bond” with Childers. Looking back at his behavior I think he was way in over his head. He dodged any type of questions that came his way.

  4. November 23, 2010 5:46 pm

    I think Childers is/ was in his heart a liberal. But he’s no dummy. He knew he could only go so far. If the voting mood/ trend from 08 mirrored 2010, he probably would have won. I think people liked him personally, but wanted a conservative and a Republican.

  5. Gloria permalink
    November 23, 2010 7:01 pm

    Would Brett please tell me what his verison of a conservative is, I hear this all the time but I guess I must be missing something if Travis Childers is not a conservative, or could it be
    he just has a D behind his name, and all of these Republican think that really means liberal,
    whatever that is to them.

  6. November 23, 2010 8:15 pm

    Yes a Democrat could still be a conservative but those days are nearing their end. They have just about ended in DC and I expect will see similar stories play out in MS over the next year.

    But in DC there are two parties- a liberal party and a conservative party. You choose to associate with one of those two but you can’t associate with one (ie, vote for Nancy Pelosi) and then come home trying to distance yourself (of course Childers didn’t even do a very good job of that). This isn’t what I perceive or how I define something, its what the voters said in pre-election polls and on election day. Bottom line is Pelosi was a killer in most districts that don’t fall into 3 categories: 1) either on the immediate west coast or upper atlantic 2) dominated by a state capitol or college town or 3) majority-minority.

    Both Childers and Taylor were on the wrong team. Regardless of what they were saying about Pelosi this time around they already had her stain on their hands.

    Did a lot more analysis right after the election if you want to see my POV in more detail.

  7. travis permalink
    November 24, 2010 10:32 am

    Principled conservatives are rare in both parties I think.

  8. Steve Rankin permalink
    November 27, 2010 4:51 am

    The four Alabama party-switchers, of course, were just elected to four-year terms as Democrats on Nov. 2. I’m always glad to see more Republican legislators, but that action is pretty blatant. In Alabama, as in Mississippi, however, few people care about such things.

    This is a reminder of the 1986 Alabama Democratic primary for governor. Attorney general Charlie Graddick, an ex-Republican, won the Dem primary. The state Democratic Executive Committee, though, determined that a bunch of Republicans had crossed over to vote for Graddick, and the committee declared Bill Baxley to be the Dem nominee. Many voters were outraged, leading to the election of Alabama’s first GOP governor since Reconstruction, Guy Hunt.

    2011 looks to be a good year for Mississippi Republicans. The ballot initiatives– especially the one for voter ID– will put many Democratic nominees in tough positions, as they will be expected to take stances on the initiatives.

    All of Louisiana’s state legislative seats, like Mississippi’s, will be up for election in 2011.

    • November 28, 2010 3:50 pm

      With the Alabama group who switched, I imagine they did so because the GOP won the majority…which I do not believe was a given going into the election.

  9. Steve Rankin permalink
    November 28, 2010 10:42 pm

    Apparently, the most important principle to the switchers is being in the majority.

    There have been lawsuits filed over such actions. When (1) devout adherents of Party A give their money and work their hearts out to get a candidate elected, (2) their candidate wins, and then (3) that politician defects to Party B before he even takes office, it’s only natural that Party A’s adherents feel betrayed.

    • Doloroso permalink
      November 29, 2010 3:42 pm

      They should feel betrayed if they were working for the party and not the person. The person didn’t change. In that case, the most important principle to those adherents would be party.

  10. Steve permalink
    November 30, 2010 6:17 pm

    Some people are loyal to a party, and party loyalists worked for each of those four candidates because he was the party’s standard-bearer, by virtue of having won the party’s primary. The party presumably donated money to those candidates; if so, they should pay it back.

    The persons– the four candidates– did indeed change: shortly after being elected, they changed their affiliations from Democratic to Republican.

    Why didn’t those candidates run as independents? That’s easy: because independents rarely get elected. They USED the party label to win the election, and then when it became more advantageous for them to throw in with the opposing party, they selfishly did so.


  1. Will we see Congressional Party switchers in 2011 as we saw in 1995? Not likely «Coach is Right

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