AL-05: Freshman Rep. Parker Griffith to Switch to GOP


Rep. Parker Griffith, a freshman Democrat from Alabama, will announce today that he’s switching parties to become a Republican. […]

While the timing of his announcement was unexpected, Griffith’s party switch will not come as a surprise to those familiar with his voting record, which is one of the most conservative among Democrats.

He has bucked the Democratic leadership on nearly all of its major domestic initiatives, including the stimulus package, health care legislation, the cap-and trade energy bill and financial regulatory reform.

He was one of only 11 House Democrats to vote against the stimulus.

WA-Gov: SUSA Shows Gregoire with Slight Lead

Survey USA shows Gov. Christine Gregoire leading in her rematch against Republican Dino Rossi (likely voters, 4/7 in parens):

Christine Gregoire:50% (48%)
Dino Rossi:46% (47%)

From SUSA:

Rossi leads by 11 points among men; Gregoire leads by 20 among women — a 31 point gender gap. Voters under age 50 narrowly break for Rossi; Gregoire leads by 9 among voters 50+. 16% of Democrats cross over to vote for Rossi; 7% of Republicans vote for Gregoire. Independents split 5:4 for the incumbent. Gregoire wins by 13 points in metro Seattle; Rossi leads by 2 points in the rest of Western Washington and by 12 points in the eastern part of the state.

AL-05: Republicans Lose Top Recruit

The GOP had hoped to convince State Senator Tom Butler (D-Madison) to switch parties and run for Congress as a Republican, but sources now say he'll sit out the race. With the filing deadline falling this Friday, Republicans are left with businessman Wayne Parker, who was defeated by incumbent Bud Cramer in 1994 and 1996. Democrats are in a strong position to hold onto this open seat with State Senator Parker Griffith (D-Huntsville).

AL-05: Party Switching and Other Developments

With Bud Cramer springing his retirement at the end of last week, there was bound to be a great deal of soul-searching and activity in AL-05 over the weekend. The best example is State Senator Tom Butler (D R – Madison) who, after talking it over with Republican Gov. Bob Riley, has apparently decided to discard the Democratic party label which got him elected to three terms in the State House and four terms in the State Senate as he's expected to switch parties and run for Cramer's seat as a Republican.

I'm sure Riley has promised Butler his full support (demonstrating the weakness of the Republican bench in North Alabama if they're scrambling for a party switcher), but Butler might want to be careful what he's asked for. Riley has never demonstrated particularly long coattails and they're bound to be even shorter in North Alabama. Republicans have lost four out of Alabama's last five special legislative elections; all of which were aggressively targeted by Riley and the Republican Party.

The most poignant of Riley's many defeats was at the hands of Democratic Butch Taylor in HD22, which lies within AL-05. For weeks after the seat opened up, all Republicans could talk about was how the district's demographics favored a conservative Republican and how "Democrats are scared to death." Sounds sorta familiar doesn't it? Riley made a few trips to the district and raised funds for the Republicans, only to see it all blow up in his face as Taylor walked away with a 16-point victory. It's the same story all over Alabama, from the election of James Fields in rural Cullman to primaries in safe-Republican seats:

Riley endorsed Randy McKinney. He was heavily favored but lost to Trip Pittman. This district is one of the most republican in the state. It is also one of Riley's top counties for popularity and job approval. McKinney led the field of four strong candidates in the first primary and had all the Montgomery money endorsements. However, Riley's endorsement created a backlash and elected Pittman.

The lesson learned by Riley is Alabamians resent a politician arrogantly trying to get involved in another race. All politics is local. These two maxims have withstood the test of time.

When thinking about the question a few months back, Doc's Political Parlor also had a hard time coming up with a successful Riley-backed candidate:

Can someone help me think of a candidate who was elected with Riley’s support that would have otherwise lost?  Not Luther Strange, Drayton Nabers, Randy McKinney… SD 17 incumbent Jack Biddle was more of a Riley man than his opponent Scott Beason but lost.

While Butler’s party switch is mildly damaging to Democratic chances of holding this seat, it’s not nearly as bad as some Republicans will attempt to spin it as. Being viewed as Riley’s boy in this race seems like it’ll be bound to hurt Butler. And I’m not sure how fired up local Republicans will be about his candidacy considering Butler’s been working and running against them as a Democrat for decades; I imagine they’ll find it rather difficult to let bygones be bygones.

AL-05: Democrat Cramer to Retire

Congressman Bud Cramer (D-AL) announced this evening that he won't be seeking another term:

This was a difficult decision, but after 28 years of public service it is time for me to step aside, spend more time with my family and begin another chapter in my life,” he said. “I believe that this is a good time for me to step aside and transition to new leadership.

Cramer's seat is probably a Democratic hold, with likely candidates on our side including Public Service Commissioner Susan Parker and State Senator Parker Griffith (D-Huntsville). On the Republican side, the bench is rather weak and the only name that comes to mind is State Senator Arthur Orr (R-Decatur). Within the district, Orr is the only Republican state senator and there are but a handful of Republicans who hold state house seats. So while the seat has a PVI of R+6.5, this district is solidly Democratic on the state and local level.

AL-02: Bright Outlook for Democrats

Ending months of speculation, Montgomery Mayor Bobby Bright has decided to seek the open seat in AL-02 currently held by retiring Republican Terry Everett. Bright is well-liked in Montgomery and widely credited with the city's recent revitilazation. And while he drew several challengers when running for a third term last summer, Bright was re-elected without a runoff. Bright was first elected mayor in 1999, when he defeated 22-year incumbent and demagogue Emory Folmar.

Bright was the DCCC's top choice for the district and they appear ready to actively support his campaign:

If Bobby Bright is the Democratic candidate, this seat becomes a pickup opportunity, given his record of success. We are invested in growing our majority and have the resources to do it.

Bright will likely have the Democratic nomination to himself, while several Republican legislators and businessmen will be duking it out in the GOP primary. The district has a PVI of R+13, but has shown it’s tendency to split a ticket and support Democrats. Nearly 76% of local office holders in the district are Democrats and statewide candidates like Ag Commissioner Ron Sparks have pulled strong numbers. It’s certainly possible for a Democrat to represent this district in Congress and Bobby Bright will be a strong candidate.

MS-Sen-B: Shows Clears Field for Musgrove

Former Democratic Congressman Ronnie Shows has dropped his campaign for Trent Lott's US Senate seat. Shows' decision clears the field for former Gov. Ronnie Musgrove to challenge Barbour's appointee, Roger Wicker. Shows immediately moved to support Musgrove:

Ronnie Musgrove has a long history of working with all Mississippians to bring about change and I believe he is now our best hope to be the independent voice this state needs in Washington. I look forward in the coming months to helping Governor Musgrove win this election so Mississippi will have a Senator who will work to end the partisan bickering that prevents Washington from getting anything done.

MS-Sen-B: State Supreme Courts Rules for Barbour

Despite the state Attorney General going to bat for common sense and an early victory in district court, the Mississippi Supreme Court has sided with Gov. Haley Barbour's interpretation of state law. Democrats had hoped to have a special election in March to fill Trent Lott's seat, but the Court has ruled the election must take place in November, which is expected to provide the GOP nominee with substantial presidential coattails. Former Gov. Ronnie Musgrove, the leading Democratic candidate for the seat, released this statement:

While it is disappointing that Governor Barbour seeks to anoint the next United States Senator from Mississippi instead of letting the people of this great state vote as quickly as possible in a currently scheduled March election and in accordance with state law, the Mississippi Supreme Court's decision today does not change the direction of Ronnie Musgrove's campaign for the United States Senate.

The bad news today is not that we now have a longer campaign to run, but that Mississippi will be stuck for another nine months with the same type of Washington nonsense from Roger Wicker. People are fed up with outrageous earmarks like bridges to nowhere and teapot museums that do nothing for Mississippi's middle class.

Update: The DSCC has launched a site targeting Barbour’s appointment to the seat, Roger Wicker. And always the penny-pincher when not dealing with taxpayer dollars, Wicker didn’t buy the .org and .net domains for his campaign site, so you can probably guess where those lead now.

MO-Gov, MO-09: Hulshof Leaving Congress to Run for Governor

Hoping to fill the vaccum left by incumbent Gov. Matt Blunt's decision not to seek re-election, Rep. Kenny Hulshof (R-MO) is planning to run for governor rather than seek another term in Congress. Hulshof joins the current lieutenant governor and state treasurer in the GOP primary to determine who Democratic AG Jay Nixon gets to defeat in November. In doing so, Hulshof adds his R+6.5 district to the list of open seats Republicans will be defending this fall.