AL-05: Parker Griffith Can Lose

Could newly-minted turncoat Parker Griffith get teabagged to death? It’s looking like a real possibility. You’d think that if the NRCC could score a party switch (always a big deal), it would come with assurances that the primary field would be swept clear. And just a few years ago, when the Republicans were in the majority and promoting conservatism was equated with supporting Bush, I have no doubt that would have happened. (After all, no GOPers complained when Rodney Alexander changed parties.) But today, with wingnuts demanding absurd levels of purity, it’s a different ballgame:

Madison County Commissioner Mo Brooks (R) said Tuesday afternoon that he won’t be clearing out of the GOP primary in Alabama’s 5th district to make way for Rep. Parker Griffith, who announced earlier in the day that he was switching parties and joining the Republican Conference.

Brooks also warned the Congressman that his party switching ways will not go over well with GOP primary voters, who make up the vast majority of the 48 percent of the 5th district electorate that voted against Griffith in the 2008 general election.

“That’s a tough jury to sell, particularly when you’ve voted with [Speaker] Nancy Pelosi [D-Calif.] 85 percent of the time,” Brooks said. “It’s unbelievably good fortune that Parker Griffith would jump into our pool and want to play. … He has just propelled us to favored candidate status.”

This just goes to show you: You can vote against the Democrats on every single big-ticket item – the stimulus, the Obama budget, cap-and-trade, healthcare, finacial regulatory reform, and even equal pay for women – and they’ll still find something to hit you on. In this case, Mo Brooks is smacking Griffith for his WaPo “Voting with Party” score. Nevermind that Griffith has one of the lowest scores on the list – trying to fight from a defensive crouch is almost always a recipe for failure. The GOP would surely have used this number against him had he stayed a Dem; it’s nice to see he’ll still get whaled on with it as a Republican. (And let that be a lesson to other conservadems who think they can hide behind lousy voting records.)

But don’t worry – Griffith’s new Republican buddies have plenty more ammo:

But just five years ago, Griffith donated $1,500 to the presidential campaign of liberal icon Howard Dean – with one donation coming when Dean’s campaign was already faltering in February 2004.

(Griffith also gave $1,000 to Sen. Harry Reid [D-Nev.] in December 2003 – something his conservative detractors will be sure to point out.)

Howard Dean! LOL! Who knew that me and Grif had so much in common? I was a big Dean supporter back then, too! But I think that even I knew it was time to jump ship by February (hell, his campaign folded in the middle of that month). You can bet that if a guy pretending to be a Southern-fried conservative was at one point a Dean backer, he’s said and done a lot of other libruhl shit over the course of his career. Like this:

A Dem source noted that while all of his back-and-forth with GOPers was going on, Griffith actually took the time to attend the 12/9 DCCC holiday party, an event that featured Speaker Nancy Pelosi. That doesn’t exactly paint the picture of a man wavering in his party commitments.

You can bet that isn’t the only time Grif has hobnobbed with Pelosi. But wait – there’s more! Plenty more. I think Griffith’s primary opponents could run this old ad – courtesy of the NRCC, circa 2008 – without changing a single word:

I know you didn’t think I was done yet. Our compadres at the Club for Growth is happy to Scozzafava good ol’ Grif, too:

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.

Zing! I think it’s very possible that it will be easier for Brooks to beat Griffith in a primary rather than a general. The DCCC is squeezing Grif to get back their money (something they did successfully with Rodney Alexander), so that’ll hurt him on the financial front. What’s more, he’s got a bit of a “damned-if-he-do, damned-if-he-don’t” situation on his hands: If the NRCC decides to openly support Griffith, it would almost certainly provide major fodder to the teabaggers – Charlie Crist 2.0. On the flipside, if they don’t back him (very possible, since they have to care more about blue seats than red ones), well, then, he loses out on major institutional backing. Not a good problem to have.

It’s important to remember that to remain a member in good standing of the conservative movement, it isn’t enough just to vote a certain way. You have to evidence a very particular tribal belonging – you need to hate the right people, be ignorant of the right facts, be fearful of the right bogeymen, and be arrogant about the whole enterprise. If you somehow fail this tribal litmus test, it doesn’t matter how right-wing you are – that’s how, for example, a wildly conservative guy like former Rep. Chris Cannon could lose a primary to another wildly conservative maniac.

And Parker Griffith is no Chris Cannon. Good luck, li’l buddy.

54 thoughts on “AL-05: Parker Griffith Can Lose”

  1. Now, any word on a good, loyal Democrat in Northern Alabama who might want to step up and take advantage of this situation?

  2. Best one Ive read at this blog site, yet.

    Griffith is where we draw the giant line between the motivations for people wanting want to be politicians.  Does the main motivation revolve around simply wanting to be a representative or as someone who goes in to have a political agenda, have principles, and want to get something done.  I think both motivations have their excellent points to being the more valid one, but it is apparent in this climate that to win in the GOP, you need to have principles and conservative policy goals you’ve wanted to accomplish and not someone who simply wants to represent a district, which for many (maybe most?) is in the middle.

    This is what will probably doom Griffith, Crist, and Snowe in 2012.  Primary voters do not want representative politics, they want principled politics.

  3. Is the NRCC going to weigh in on Griffith’s behalf? I wouldn’t be at all surprised if that was negotiated as part of his switch today. Ironically, such a move could very well prove to be the kiss of death in a teabagger-dominated GOP primary.

  4. Griffith had a better than even chance (granted, not much better) of winning as a Democrat and now, next to none as a Republican. If he survives, it will be thanks to some serious improbabilities happening, like him surviving a serious teabagging, a thorough reexamination of his record, a wave of Democratic pressure*, serious opponents on both sides of the aisle, the NRCC’s cash poor and poisonous touch, the departure of his entire political team, and the fact that he doesn’t have a strong base and his short but highly politicizable record….these things might do him in.  

    You know who has the best political instincts ever? Bobby Bright. Alabama’s other Democrat who won in a heavily Republican district saw what was happening… and dude just ducked. He issued a statement calling for love and non-partisanship in the Christmas (yes, he made sure his last sentence had  “Christmas”) season. Not a word either way on if he might switch. But I think Griffith’s stormy reception might be all the evidence Bright needs to stay with the Democrats. We’ll see how it plays out, but I guarantee Bright will use Griffith like a trial balloon.

    And I will watch his eventual decision closely. My bet is that he indicates he will run as a Democrat in 2010 at some point before too much longer. He can’t wait too long … but I’m guessing he’ll downplay it for as long as he can without damage (after New Year’s, maybe?).

    *Attention Nancy Pelosi: It’s almost your time to shine. Wait until after Christmas (and probably New Year’s) and then strip Griffith of the choicest committee assignment(s?) he has. …Just a partisan thought that floated through my head.


    Griffith was the fourth least valuable Democrat anyway below only Artur Davis, John Barrow and Marcy Kaptur.

    Top ten most valuable Dems are Gordon, Spratt, Boucher, Edwards, Giffords, Pomeroy, Mollohan and Moore. Shame two of those are retiring.

  6. makes me think of FDR’s “we have nothing to fear but fear itself”. If that was the context of it then it can easily be explained away.

  7. If Griffith GOP primary bloodies and divides the Republicans maybe a Dem State Rep can win this in November.

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