Across the South, Dozens of Blue Dog Dems Defecting to Republican Party
Some two dozen blue dog Democrats in southern states have defected from their party and become members of the GOP since November, according to the Los Angeles Times:
Since the midterm election, 24 state senators and representatives have made the switch in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and Texas.
In some cases, the ramifications have been profound: In Louisiana, defecting Democrats gave Republicans a majority in the state House for the first time since Reconstruction; in Alabama, they delivered the GOP a House supermajority. Republicans have 65 votes to the Democrats' 39, enough to pass constitutional amendments over Democratic opposition.
As 2012 nears, President Obama "will face a sea of red that is increasingly deep" in the Deep South: "Republicans hold every Southern governor's mansion except in North Carolina and Arkansas, and control most of the state legislative chambers."
Jim Taflinger, the head of Georgia's Hall County Democratic Party told the Timesthat the defections aren't "so much policy driven ... so much as environment driven. The business environment is such that you have to be careful up here calling yourself a Democrat — there's a stigma to it."
Meanwhile, the Maddow Blog points us to a Scottsboro Daily Sentinalarticle that brings up the issue of race in all this party-switching. Local Democratic Party Chairman Joe Turnham pushed the four Democrats who have become Republicans in his state to return funds given to them by the Democratic Caucus, and said via press release:
"The Republican members of the legislature have put on a full-court press to push all white Democrats to change parties after the election. Instead of respecting and working with the Democrats of the House and Senate who were fairly elected under their own party label, Republicans have with today's announcement made it clear that they want to run Alabama as a partisan-only super majority and will seek to impugn the rights and voices of Democrats who do not switch and come over."