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Freshman Democratic U.S. Rep. Parker Griffith announced Tuesday he is switching to the GOP, another blow to Democrats facing a potentially tough midterm election. Griffith spoke to reporters at his home in northern Alabama, a region that relies heavily on defense and aerospace jobs.
“I believe our nation is at a crossroads and I can no longer align myself with a party that continues to pursue legislation that is bad for our country, hurts our economy, and drives us further and further into debt,” Griffith said as his wife Virginia stood by his side.
“I want to make it perfectly clear that this bill is bad for our doctors,” he said Tuesday. “It’s bad for our patients. It’s bad for the young men and women who are considering going into the health care field.”
He said after the press conference that his defection had nothing to do with concerns about whether he could win re-election as a Democrat. He also said he had not talked to any fellow Democrats about switching parties along with him.
“If they do, I hope it’s on conviction and not politics,” he said.
Griffith had accumulated one of the most conservative voting records of any House Democrat. He was one of seven Democrats to oppose Obama’s economic stimulus measure early this year and also voted against an anti-global warming bill pushed strongly by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
Several veteran House moderates have announced their retirements next year, giving Republicans hopes of picking up a significant number of seats in the November elections.
“We will be working strongly to put a Democrat in there,” Spearman said.