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Friday, November 19, 2010

Four Dems expected to switch parties

Up to four Democrats in the Alabama House of Representatives are expected to announce on Monday that they are switching parties and will join with the Republicans who overwhelmingly took the majority from them in the Nov. 2 election.
"There have been discussions before and after the election with people we have felt like should be on our team and some who have approached us," said Alabama Republican Party Chairman Mike Hubbard. "We have a press conference on Monday."
The House Republican Caucus, in a release, said members would "make an important announcement relating to organization of the Legislature" at 10 a.m. Monday.
State Rep. Alan Boothe, D-Troy, told the Montgomery Advertiser he has not decided whether he will switch, but said he will continue discussions with Republicans through the weekend and until as late as Monday morning.
"I think it is imperative for me, to represent my district in the best possible way, that I keep all avenues open," Boothe said.
"I want to do what I think can help the people of my district the most. All doors are open. I don't think we can shut any doors at this time. ... The decision will be made soon."
Boothe said he sat next to Gov.-elect Robert Bentley, who served two terms as a Republican legislator, for the last eight years at the State House.
"He and I have got to be good friends. He has asked me to carry his program forward for the betterment of this state," Boothe said.
State Rep. Mike Millican, D-Hamilton, told the Tuscaloosa News "the reason I'm switching is as plain as day. The people of Alabama spoke Nov. 2 and not only did the people of the state but the people in my district spoke with authority."
Other House members expected to switch are state Reps. Lesley Vance of Phenix City and Steve Hurst of Munford.
The Advertiser could not reach Millican, Vance or Hurst for comment.
Vance told the News he would not comment until Monday at a press conference.
"We're always open to like-minded conservative people who share our values," Hubbard said. "Our party is always open in talking to people who are interested in switching over. We are not interested in people who would just want to switch to be in the majority or opportunists. If they share our values, they are" welcome.
Hubbard, a state representative from Auburn who is expected to be the next speaker of the House, declined further comment until the Monday announcement.
Republicans currently control the House 62-43.
House committees can have up to 15 members. If those men switch, Republicans could then put 10 members on each panel because the committees are supposed to reflect the political makeup of the chamber.
Republicans, in the House and Senate, would be able to push their agenda through committees and through the full chambers without needing votes from any Democrats.
When asked whether he was concerned about criticism from switching so soon after an election, Boothe said "I hope to be able to represent all of the people. That's what you hold your hand up and say you will do." He said there would be people unhappy with him regardless of his decision.
Boothe did not have any opposition in the last election.
"I just feel like it is time I entertain all avenues and look at all perspectives," he said. "Based on the election and the outcome, I think there was a message sent to Montgomery and I think we better listen to it."

-- posted by Sebastian Kitchen

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Location: Montgomery, AL, United States

South Union Street is the blog of Montgomery Advertiser political reporters Markeshia Ricks and Sebastian Kitchen. Always check here for the latest on the Legislature, elections and other activities and players in Alabama.

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