State Sen. Jerry Fielding ended the speculation and rumors Thursday morning by formally announcing that he was joining the GOP.
The addition of Fielding added to the Republicans' commanding supermajority in the Alabama Senate. The breakdown of the chamber now consists of 23 Republicans, 11 Democrats, and one Independent.
Fielding said he had contemplated the move for months and said he no longer identified with the national Democratic Party.
"I don't stand for same-sex marriage, abortion and gun control, and you definitely don't have to ask me three times if I want God to be included in my party's platform," Fielding said in a statement released prior to the announcement. "I couldn't sit by and watch the Democrat Party adopt such an extremely liberal agenda."
Fielding was referring to the controversy over the Democratic Party Agenda that was adopted at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte last month.
Earlier in the week, the Chairman of the Alabama Democratic Party preempted Fielding's announcement with a statement scolding the lawmaker who represents parts of Elmore, Coosa, and Talladega Counties.
Chairman Mark Kennedy wrote in a statement that Fielding was turning his back on the district that elected him.
"The bottom line is that Jerry Fielding buckled under the pressure of the Republican supermajority that is out to drive every white Democrat out of office" Kennedy said.
Kennedy released another statement Thursday afternoon with even more harsh words for Fielding and the Republicans.
"This has everything to do with redistricting and the fact that Jerry Fielding was targeted for elimination by the Republican supermajority unless he switched parties" Kennedy said.
When asked about the impact of redistricting on his decision to switch parties, Fielding laughed and said he hadn't yet made a decision on running for reelection in 2014.
Fielding's voting record is a mixed bag; one that leans Republican but is perhaps closer to the center.
He voted in favor of most of the ethics bills pushed during the December 2010 Special Session, in favor of the controversial immigration law, and for charter schools. Fielding sided with his then-Democrat caucus against a bill that encouraged that the state opt-out of the federal healthcare law, and he voted against the Rolling Reserve Budget Act, a new way to budget for education.
Even with that voting record, Majority Leader Sen. Jabo Waggoner (R - Vestavia Hills) said he's thrilled to have Fielding in the Republican fray.
"He's conservative" Waggoner said. "He's pro-business and he will be a perfect fit to join our ranks."
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