Parker Griffith can't win.
Earlier today, it was reported that the freshman Representative from Alabama's 5th Congressional District has decided to switch parties, from Democrat to Republican. Politico calls the news a "jolt" to House Democrats, but it seems pretty clear that the only "jolt" they are concerned with is the one to his backside as the door to the Democratic caucus closes behind him. Meanwhile, conservative activists are already painting Griffith as the second coming of Dede Scozzafava.
As Media Matters was quick to point out, Democrats basically lost a party member who pretty reliably voted against their initiatives anyway. Griffith was a "no" vote on Lily Ledbetter, the stimulus package, the American Clean Energy and Security Act, the Affordable Health Care For America Act and financial reform legislation. On top of that, Griffith particularly fetishized having a missile defense system in Eastern Europe, which the administration plans to scrap. On his website, Griffith called the missile shield the "best stimulus," mainly "because his district contains the base for Boeing's ground-based missile defense research."
Of course, the Tea-steeped conservative movement didn't exactly welcome Griffith with open arms, either. Here's RedState's Erick Erickson:
That is a huge blow to Barack Obama. Griffith was an extremely endangered Democrat.
We should now hope 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.
"We can pick this guy off and get a real Republican in that seat," says Erickson. The Club For Growth, which famously got Democrat Bill Owens elected in New York's 23rd District, says the same thing:
Griffith's voting record is far from conservative, too. Granted, he voted against the Big 4 - Obama's first budget, the Stimulus, Cap and Trade, and ObamaCare. However, his vote on the budget is slightly deceptive since he originally voted for 9 of the 12 spending bills that make up the budget. And he voted against all the Stimulus amendments that would reduce its size.
But just a quick perusal of 2009 shows that he voted YES on the 2009 pork-filled Omnibus; YES on Cash for Clunkers, NO on waiving the harmful Davis-Bacon provision, and had a pathetic 0% score on the 2009 RePORK Card.
This party switch signals Griffith's nervousness, but it doesn't signal that his incumbency is safe.
If Griffith has a friend in all of this, it's the National Republican Campaign Committee. Over at True/Slant, Michael Roston reports that the NRCC has done Griffith a solid today -- by very swiftly removing all of the disparaging attack ads they once deployed against him. Ben Smith helpfully grabs one of the few that remain:
UPDATE: Dave Weigel has even more on the reception Griffith is receiving from the right. Griffith's switch has done nothing to deter his Tea Party opponent Les Phillip, who told Weigel that it "would do nothing to deter his bid" for Griffith's seat. A spokeman for Madison County Commissioner Mo Brooks, who the NRCC had been giving nominal support, is staying in the race for the seat as well. And the disparagement of Griffith doesn't stop there:
The harsh reactions of Brooks and Phillip were in line with the reactions of activists in Alabama's fifth congressional district.
"He's an S.O.B.," said Dale Jackson, a conservative radio host who's pasted a banner reading "Parker Griffith Cannot Be Trusted" on his Website. "He's a liar. Michael Steele should be ashamed of himself. The NRCC should be ashamed of itself for not coming out and immediately repudiating this guy. He was unacceptable a year ago and he's acceptable now? A year ago, they were saying this guy was a murderer."
Conservatives Not Ready to Embrace Party-Switcher [The Washington Independent]
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