Posted by Max Reiss
MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Alabama Republicans added to their majority Monday in the statehouse. Four state lawmakers announced their intentions to switch parties.
The four house Democrats - Steven Hurst (Munford); Mike Millican (Hamilton); Lesley Vance (Phenix City); and Alan Boothe (Troy) - announced that they will join the Republicans.
The moves increase the Republican majority from 62 to 66 members in the House giving the GOP a super majority - power to end any filibuster.
The soon-to-be speaker of the house, Mike Hubbard, is welcoming the legislators with open arms. "We welcome these gentlemen. I've told them they were Republicans before they knew they were Republicans. We knew all along that they were Republicans aligned with us. But we would only be looking for and be accepting of members who are like-minded."
Democrat leadership was less than pleased with the four defectors' decisions.
"If today's switchers truly believe in the ideals of the Republican Party and the democratic process; they could resign, then seek re-election in a special election in a Republican Primary and General Election and let the voters of their districts validate their switch today. Each of them should also immediately refund the monies given to them by their Democratic Caucus," said Jim Spearman with the Alabama Democratic Party.
The Democratic Party said it was "baffled" by the decisions, citing each of the legislators' ability to overcome "the biggest national Republican electoral sweep in well over a generation..." with time, money and volunteers from the Democratic Party - only to switch parties two weeks later. The party says Republicans want to run the state as "a partisan-only super majority and will seek to impugn the rights and voices of Democrats who do not switch and come over."
The GOP, which recently claimed both the Alabama House and Senate for the first time in 136 years, now has the power to push its agenda without a great deal of opposition.
Each of the men said they only made the decision after the election and that party chairman Hubbard never recruited them during the campaign.
One of the points each kept coming back to was pro-life - saying that the Republicans had a stronger message on that issue. They also said they wanted to be members of a party that was pro-business and, in their minds, the GOP fit that bill.