House Blue Dog Switches Party, Stiffing Democrats for $1 Million in Campaign Funds
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One thing you can't say about Alabama's Blue Dog Congressman Parker Griffith is that he's afraid to bite the hand that fed him. Only in his freshman term, Griffith today announced that he would switch parties, and become a Republican -- leaving the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee holding the bag for some $1 million it spent helping Griffith get elected.
Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., in his capacity as chairmain of the DCCC, today issued this statement (via RealClearPolitics):
"House Democratic Members and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee took Parker Griffith at his word and, as a result, invested a great deal in working with Alabamans to bring Mr. Griffith to Congress. We were committed to helping Mr. Griffith deliver for his constituents and successfully helped Mr. Griffith fend off the personal attacks against him from the far right.
"Mr. Griffith, failing to honor our commitment to him, has a duty and responsibility to return to Democratic Members and the DCCC the financial resources that were invested in him. His constituents will hold him accountable for failing to keep his commitments."
Meanwhile, the far right, rather than jumping for joy, has promised Griffith a primary challenger. Here's Erick Erickson of Red State:
Rep. Parker Griffith, an Alabama Democrat is switching to the GOP today.
That is a huge blow to Barack Obama. Griffith was an extremely endangered Democrat.
We should now hope [sic] him be an extremely endangered Republican in a primary. We will not fix the GOP’s problems if we keep allowing people who are not one of us to suddenly switch the letter next to their name and magically become one of us.
Being a Republican should be about more than just the letter next to a person’s name. We can improve that seat.
Here are Griffith’s earmark requests. He voted for Pelosi for Speaker. He’s actually been more regularly with Pelosi than Jim Marshall (D-GA). We can pick this guy off and get a real Republican in that seat.
Again, changing the letter next to your name does not magically make you one of us.
Hard to say what this all means. The Democrats lose a Democrat who rarely voted with them when it mattered. The Republicans get an incumbent who will be challenged in a primary by a Tea Party candidate.
If the warfare within the GOP ranks is heated enough, the Dems could possibly win back the seat in the same way that they won in the 23rd congressional district of New York -- this time with a Democrat who might be a bit more reliable. That would require a third-party challenge, though.
Don't kid yourselves: no progressive is going to win a seat in Griffith's district, even with a split Republican vote. In the meantime, the Griffith defection means that the Democrats' majority in the House has already narrowed -- and we're still 10 months from election day.
Adele M. Stan is AlterNet's Washington bureau chief.