December 22nd, 2009
03:23 PM ET
11 months ago

Griffith: 'I can no longer align myself' with Dems

(CNN)– Democratic Rep. Parker Griffith announced Tuesday he is switching to the Republican Party, citing fundamental differences with his former party on key issues including, health care reform, 'cap and trade,' and the stimulus bills.

"I believe our nation is at a crossroads," Griffiths said during a press conference in Alabama Tuesday. "I can no longer align myself with a party that continues to pursue legislation that is bad for our country, hurts our economy, and drives us further and further into debt."

"For me to be true to my core beliefs and values, I must align myself with the Republican Party and speak out clearly on these issues," he added.

Griffith was one of 39 Democrats to vote against the party's health care reform bill last month. He is only one of three Democrats to have voted against the health care bill, the stimulus measure, and the cap-and-trade bill.

National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Pete Sessions quickly welcomed Griffith to the Republican Party, and said Tuesday's events foreshadow big GOP gains in the 2010 elections.

"This decision is emblematic of the message that millions of concerned citizens have been trying to send to a Democrat Party that has become increasingly unwilling to listen," Sessions said in a statement. "Whether Democrat leaders choose to pay attention now or wait for the electorate to send them a resounding message next November, Parker Griffith's willingness to put the interests of his district first sends a positive signal to others who have grown just as disappointed with their party as the American people have."

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen expressed outrage over Griffith's decision and requested he return the money the DCCC invested to get him elected.

"House Democratic Members and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee took Parker Griffith at his word and, as a result, invested a great deal in working with Alabamans to bring Mr. Griffith to Congress," Van Hollen said in a statement. "Mr. Griffith, failing to honor our commitment to him, has a duty and responsibility to return to Democratic Members and the DCCC the financial resources that were invested in him."

Griffith won his seat in Alabama's 5th congressional district last year by 3 points over Republican Wayne Parker. But the district went for Republican John McCain over Barack Obama by 23 points in the presidential election.

Griffith's decision won't necessarily protect him from a GOP challenge in his conservative district. Shortly after news of the congressman's decision broke, conservative activists called for a primary challenger to take on the newly-minted Republican.

"Griffith was an extremely endangered Democrat," wrote RedState'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."

With Griffith's switch, the Democrats will hold a 257-178 advantage in the House of Representatives.

– CNN's Deirdre Walsh, Evan Glass, and Paul Steinhauser contributed to this story


Filed under: Parker Griffith
soundoff (152 Responses)
  1. Matt

    See, I told ya this first term Democrat can be bought. Stick a bow on his head and call him a Republican!

    December 22, 2009 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  2. Justin

    This whole idea of a congressman switching parties changing the balance of power... it's a fantasy. He was voting against the Democrats before and he'll continue to vote in the same way regardless of label.

    We focus so heavily on labels, as if a legislator's sole basis to decide votes is their party.

    December 22, 2009 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  3. Whammybar

    So, he chose what he considers the lesser of two evils.

    December 22, 2009 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  4. Mamanomia

    The only important Griffeth is Andy..

    December 22, 2009 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  5. Tim

    I would consider him to be a moderate, and this is very symbolic of the coming deluge of moderates leaning towards the right of center due to the negligence of the current Democrat party and forceful legislation against the will of the majority of Americans.

    December 22, 2009 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  6. John in Dayton

    I am so with Rep. Chris van Hollen. Griffith was a Democrat in name only. If the administration had done nothing to work on saving the auto industry and banks earlier this year, Griffith and the GOP would have been screaming bloody murder about that. Democrats and the Democratic Party are working hard to right the wrongs of the past 8 years. If Rep. Griffith doesn't want to be part of the solution, then he becomes part of the problem.

    December 22, 2009 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  7. Jeff

    Well, the man is entitled to his beliefs. And if he is following his conscience, so be it.

    History, however, will likely show he worked against both his own interests and those of his state. That's unfortunate. But still, he is entitled to his beliefs.

    December 22, 2009 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  8. Steve

    Good riddance. Get rid of all these republicans who call themselves Democrats.

    December 22, 2009 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  9. Secondwind

    Congressman Griffith was the object of fierce attack by the Republican Party in the last cycle. I suspect that many of those ads will be used by Democrats in 2010. "Hear waht Griffith's own Party says about him." North Alabama is trending Republican because of the defense industry. Parker's change is not about principle.

    December 22, 2009 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  10. RJ

    I wonder if people that switch parties during their elected term can be sued for breach of contract. After all, when you vote for someone of a particular party, don't you expect them to remain with that party? I'm just sayin'

    December 22, 2009 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  11. angry elephant

    personally i have never heard of him, but he sure has my support now.

    December 22, 2009 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  12. Too Bad for Him

    Good deal, the dems may just get a real democrat in that seat. The club for growth will take care of this poser. He is not nearly to the right the way that all good republicans are......... did he pass the republican test?

    December 22, 2009 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  13. rufus

    This is a change we need. If he won't spend money like a true Democrat, then who needs him?

    December 22, 2009 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  14. John Galt

    Affirming the old adage: "being liberal in youth shows you have a heart. Being a conservative as an adult shows you have a brain"

    Welcome to the party with brains!

    WIth this loser, know nothing, nazi as president, he will have much Republican company come November 2010.

    December 22, 2009 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  15. DCTWMT

    He's from Alabama. What do you expect?

    December 22, 2009 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  16. Nelson, Knoxville, TN

    This guy is nothing but a gold digger who would do anything to retain his seat. It is disingenius of him to claim that he is leaving the party that brought him to congress because 'the policies are bad the country' when the fact is that he got elected campaigning on the same policies. I would have love him if he came out and said he fared that he could not be reelect as a dem so he needed to become a republican. The party he joined is the same party that put the country into this mess that is being cleaned up and rather than join in the efforts he fled because he fared for his relection. Shame on him. I think this guy will tell us that a dow of 7000+ is better than 1000+, an economy depleting at 10% is better than the one growing at 3%, a 700000 job loss every month is better than 11000, a tax break for the top 1% is better than a tax break for the bottom 95%. Am sure Americans are not fools, this strategy of the republican will backfire on them and they will be exposed soon.

    December 22, 2009 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  17. Jane/Seattle

    Policies leading to this Depression=Began in earnest since Saint Reagan! Deregulation for the Capitalists to hold full Control!
    Stimulus=Began under Bush and now continued!
    American Policies=Always help the Rich over the Poor – Like Jesus would do, right?
    WARFARE is Good For Financial Friends of the Elites. Peace Must NOT BE!
    Either/OR, Neither/Niether! MOSTof these folks – Dems. or Repubs. do not Serve THE People! EVERYONE Serves This GREED that is RUNAWAY Capitalism! MAYBE AS we ALL TAKE OUR LAST BREATH, Folks will finally see just how destructive this system really is becoming for this EARTH and it's Inhabitants! Peace On Earth Is Just a Bunch of Words! STOP THE KILLING AND THEN I'LL TAKE WHAT YOU SAY SERIOUSLY!

    December 22, 2009 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  18. Four and The Door

    It must have been devastating for him when he realized not only what the Democratic politicians are doing to this country but how they are doing it. I would figure more of these young Democratic politicians would see this and realize they should be representing the American people instead of just the personal political ambitions of Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Barack Obama.

    December 22, 2009 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  19. Eli

    This isn't a surprise. The only liberal thing about him was his party title. He voted like a republican on almost every topic. It is his way of surviving. I am sure some others will follow suit. There will most certainly be a mix up with the house seats next year. Why do you think Obama, is trying to force through this health care bill? He knows he won't have another chance.

    December 22, 2009 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  20. Bill Akers

    Another reason Alabama is known as a backward state

    December 22, 2009 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  21. russ

    Just another politician switching to get re-elected rather than supporting the people who elected him. Hypocrite!

    December 22, 2009 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  22. Tony

    Parker Griffith isn't going to be the only Blue Dog to switch parties. The ultra-leftist Democrat party has made is quite clear that moderates are not welcome. Plus, Griffith just wants to get re-elected. The big tents has officially collapsed. The Democrat brand right now is more toxic than the Republican brand in the '06 midterms. Obama and the leftist Congress have pretty much proven that Keynesian economics are bullcrap and that deficit spending results in a worse economy.

    December 22, 2009 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  23. CitizenJP

    Griffith is opposed to what is in the interest of American people. He is a corporate broker in Washington, so he should find himself in his own element now.

    December 22, 2009 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  24. Bob in Pa

    Switching to the underdogs ?

    Of course those House Democratic Members and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee see is as a lack of loyalty to themselves. They hate the idea that "we the people" are out here and want a voice.

    People in Alabama are lucky to have someone who will speak up for them instead of goose step.

    December 22, 2009 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  25. Wayne

    A traitor from Alabama. What a surprise.

    December 22, 2009 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
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