Alabama congressman announces switch to Republican Party
"This is not about politics. This is about a conviction that I have that America is on the wrong track," he said Tuesday.
Republicans called the switch a pleasant surprise, while Democrats who worked to get him elected a year ago said they felt betrayed and vowed to "right this wrong."
Griffith, a doctor, is walking away from Democrats as they are pushing health care reform.
He said the first $787 billion stimulus was "poorly thought out;" said there was no negotiation with AIG as the company received money from the federal government, but continued to pay outrageous bonuses to executives; and watched the Democratic leadership continue to pursue healthcare reform and legislation to reduce carbon emissions while thousands of men and women lost their jobs.
Griffith, who represents a north Alabama district anchored in Huntsville, also said he was disappointed that Democrats did not fund the transportation infrastructure bill "that would put thousands of people back to work."
"A lot of that disappointed me," he said.
Griffith, who had criticized Democratic leadership, said he found he "did not have a place at the table."
The congressman said disappointment from Democrats is to be expected, but he said Democrats can see what is happening in Washington does not represent Alabama. He said the voters in District 5 elected him as an independent voice. Given time, he said, they will see he will represent Democrats and Republicans.
Griffith voted against the Democratic majority on most major issues including the federal stimulus plan and health care reform.
Griffith, who has opposition waiting for him in the Republican primary for District 5, said he will be able to run the race. He said he has shown that even though he voted against the administration that he can bring funding and projects back to the district.
He also said he was willing to return the money of Democrats who supported him.
"They'll request it and we'll write them a check," Griffith said.
-- posted by Sebastian Kitchen