MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The heads of the Alabama Democratic and Republican parties are responding to news that a democratic congressman has switched parties and is set to become a republican congressman.
The following is a full statement from Joe Turnham:
Joe Turnham, Chairman of the Alabama Democratic Party responded with extreme disappointment and new political resolve at the announcement of the Parker Griffith party-switching decision today [Tuesday]. Turnham noted that he has already had numerous phone calls from key leaders throughout the Tennessee Valley voicing their commitment to support a strong Democrat who can win the 5th Congressional District next year.
"Parker has been a friend for a number of years, but his announcement today, and the way in which he did it, deeply disappoints me. Democrats of every stripe and philosophy sweated and bled for this man. He narrowly became a Congressman through the hard work, votes and financial contributions of thousands of Democrats. Today, they feel betrayed." Turnham said.
Congressman Griffith, like his successful predecessor, Bud Cramer was well-positioned as a Blue Dog Democrat in the majority party in Washington to broker for his district and become the swing voice and vote for good public policy; yet, he has left his old friends for his new friends, and will ultimately find that he has no political friends left at all at the end of the day.
"Alabama Democrats have a deep political bench in the 5th District and we will nominate a formidable challenger to fill this seat next year." If Congressman Griffith survives a Republican Primary battle next year, he should be prepared to bring his lunch if he hopes to hold this seat in November of 2010. Our folks are motivated to right this wrong." Turnham stated.
The state party also called on Parker Griffith to return the thousands of dollars of Democratic donations he has raised.
The following is a statement from Alabama Republican Party Chairman Mike Hubbard:
"It was a pleasant surprise when Congressman Griffith called me this morning to inform me that he is leaving the democrats to become a republican. However, it is not a surprise that Griffith realized the Democratic party has now become more liberal than ever - making [President]Obama, [Senate Majority Leader Harry] Reid and [House Majority Leader] Nancy Pelosi the gifts that keep on giving for the Republican party."
Griffith's decision to switch parties does not affect the overall balance of power in Washington. The U.S. House is controlled by 257 Democrats to 178 Republicans.