Republicans added to their majority in the state House with the decision of a west Alabama legislator to switch parties just hours before the start of the 2012 legislative session on Tuesday.
Rep. Alan Harper of Aliceville said he is switching from the Democratic Party to the GOP. Harper represents a working class district that was mostly been held by Democrats in the past.
Harper said he felt he could better bring jobs into his district as a Republican. He said improving the well-being of the citizens of his district remains his top priority.
Harper is a former official with the Tuscaloosa County Industrial Development Authority where he assisted in recruiting numerous companies, including ZF Industries, Johnson Controls, Delphi, ICS, Recticel and the expansion of Mercedes-Benz.
Harper's switch gives Republicans a 66-39 majority over Democrats in the House.
The Democratic Party leader in the House, Craig Ford, D-Gadsden, issued a statement wishing Harper well as a Republican. "But it is a decision that does not favor the interests of the working families of his district. Alan Harper will have to change more than his party affiliation in order to cast the votes the Republican supermajority will demand of him."
House Majority Leader Micky Hammon, R-Decatur, said, "Alan Harper is a well-liked, well-respected and valued member of the Alabama House, and the Republican Caucus welcomes him into our ranks with open arms."
He added, "We look forward to working with him as House Republicans continue our push to create jobs, improve public education and bring unprecedented accountability and transparency to state government."
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