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Parker Griffith, Party Switcher, Loses Republican Primary in Alabama

4 years ago
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Rep. Parker Griffith, the Alabama Democrat who famously switched parties to become a Republican in 2009, was trounced in his first GOP primary Tuesday night by an 18-point margin.

Griffith is the second House member to be ousted in a primary this year, along with scandal-plagued Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-W.VA.), and joins Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) as a cautionary tale for anyone thinking of switching parties to save their political hide in the next election. Both lost in their new parties' primaries by wide margins.

With 100 percent of the precincts reporting, Madison County Commissioner Mo Brooks had won 51 percent of the vote, while Parker had just 33 percent. Local veteran Les Phillips had 16 percent.

According to several local media reports, Griffith refused to speak to reporters or to his own supporters Tuesday night, who had gathered for a victory party. Instead, he released a written concession statement saying, "I look forward to working in Congress on behalf of the people of North Alabama over the next six months. We have a lot of ongoing issues that are important to this community and I will continue to work on those issues and fight for the people of North Alabama."

Brooks, on the other hand, delivered a blistering victory speech, according to the Hunstville Times, saying Republicans must stop "those who think socialism is the way to go."

Brooks will face Democratic nominee Steve Raby in the November election, but he said Tuesday night, "I know who our general election opponent is: [Speaker of the House] Nancy Pelosi." He added: "Our ultimate goal is not to win the primary. We have to do for America one thing, which is to get a new speaker of the House."

The electoral roller coaster for Griffith began almost as soon as he was sworn in as a Democrat to take over Bud Cramer's Alabama House seat in 2008, the year that Sen. John McCain won the district with 61 percent of the vote.

In the House, the former oncologist quickly established one of the most conservative voting records in his party. He voted against several of the Democrats' signature issues, including the $787 billion stimulus, the controversial "cap and trade" energy bill, and health care reform legislation. In August of 2009, he told the Hunstville Times he would not vote for Nancy Pelosi to be speaker again, saying, "Someone that divisive and that polarizing cannot bring us together."

After less than a year as a House Democrat, Griffith announced he would become a Republican. At a press conference in his Huntsville district, he told reporters he did not belong in the Democratic Party. "There is no room for a pro-life, pro-Second Amendment, conservative businessman," he said, adding that he needed to "stand with a party more in tune with my beliefs and convictions."

But even though national Republicans had encouraged Griffith to join their party, local Republicans already had their own plans for the seat and refused to drop out of the race after Parker announced he would switch parties to run in the GOP primary instead.
Filed Under: The Capitolist
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60 Comments

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Jeff

The people don't like politician that switch parties for
political gain.

June 13 2010 at 12:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Peg

A democrat by any other name is still a democrat. I bet Griffith is sorry he burned that bridge.

June 03 2010 at 11:37 AM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
beemerboxer

I guess nobody trusts a turncoat. I know of several Republicans here who no longer support the current extremities of their party but would switch to the Democrats. The same scenario possibly exists within the Democratic Party. It seems to me that the GOP is slowly splitting into two distinct camps, a situation not conducive to winning elections when it counts, e.g, the Big One for the White House.

June 02 2010 at 11:46 AM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to beemerboxer's comment
ettu

I know of many AMERICANS who support neither the Far Right nor the Far Left of the political spectrum. The majority do not support radicals at either end. We support integrity and teamwork to resolve the issues facing all citizens.

June 02 2010 at 2:49 PM Report abuse +7 rate up rate down Reply
catheecate

I find interesting that the comment was made that the Democratic Party is trying to demonize the Republican Party. I look around and see posters with the President's picture and a Hitler likeness, signs that say "Lynch Obamacare" and I wonder who is trying to demonize who??

June 02 2010 at 11:24 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to catheecate's comment
ettu

Did you just now start watching, CATHEE, or were you around during the GWB years? Notice anything just a little disgusting going on?

June 08 2010 at 2:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
puzzleguy1

The reality is that BOTH parties have shifted towards their extremes. We now have potential candidates who have to pass some sort of ideological purity test. Centrists, left and right, are getting marginalized or vanquished.

June 02 2010 at 11:23 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to puzzleguy1's comment
ettu

Only in the eyes of the Political Parties. The American voters are not going for the Far Right/Far Left ideologies. Those extremes can never come to grips with what the majority wants to see in our political arena. I do not see candidates that are moderate, or center left/right being marginalized. What I see is the liars, cheaters, connected and corrupt, being drummed out of the ranks.

June 02 2010 at 2:52 PM Report abuse +8 rate up rate down Reply
hello

How can a centrist be left or right? Center is center!

June 07 2010 at 10:42 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
tistolaugh

It's hard to get behind someone who does not have the courage of their alleged convictions when the going gets tough. How can anyone support someone who jumps parties when the party agendas are millions of miles apart? America needs far, far, far more Independents.

June 02 2010 at 10:29 AM Report abuse +10 rate up rate down Reply
ettu

There is a line in the sand, and when a person cannot decide on which side of that line he belongs, one has to question his/her convictions. It does no good today to falsly pander to one side or the other. They voters want to know what a candidate stands for, and we will match their campaign words with their previous actions and achievements. No more smoke and mirrors, no more voting the Party line, no more simple slogans to ensnare the simple minded. We are looking for people who understand the term "servant of the people."

June 02 2010 at 9:41 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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