Boothe switches parties

Published 7:59 pm Monday, November 22, 2010

State Rep. Alan Boothe, from Troy, was among four Democrats in the Alabama House who switched Monday to the Republican Party, giving it enough votes to pass legislation in both chambers without any support from Democrats.

The others include Mike Millican of Hamilton; Steve Hurst of Munford; and Lesley Vance of Phenix City. All four veteran lawmakers said they decided to switch because their conservative views are more in line with Republicans. They all represent GOP-leaning, mostly white areas.

“I think that in the election on Nov. 3, the message was sent by the people of Alabama that they want change,” Boothe said after the press conference. “In order to position myself to do what’s in the best interest of the people I represent … I had to look at that issue and consider changing parties.”

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Boothe, a former Troy City Council member, was elected to the House of Representatives in 1998, as a Democrat.

“The times are changing,” he said Monday. “My district has changed from what it once was.”

Boothe’s district includes Pike and Dale counties and the Fort Rucker area. He said it has long been a conservative district, and he has long been considered a conservative in his role as a lawmaker. The move to the Republican Party cements that switch, he said.

And, the fact that the Republicans hold the supermajority means Boothe can be more effective as a lawmaker if alligned with the Republican Party.

The announcement came after Republicans won majorities in the House and Senate on Nov. 2. The move gives the GOP a super-majority in the House, meaning Republicans can pass anything they want and shut off all Democratic opposition.

Democratic Party Chairman Joe Turnham expressed regret that the four switched.

“These gentlemen have been my friends for a long time and I respect each of them personally, but I am saddened and hurt by the decision,” Turnham said in a statement.

Turnham said he is concerned the switch means that it will be easier for Republicans to pass their agendas.

“Republicans with today’s announcement made it clear that they want to run Alabama as a partisan-only super-majority and will seek to impugn the rights and voices of Democrats who do not switch and come over,” Turnham said.

House Republican leader Rep. Mike Hubbard, who has been selected by the GOP caucus to be the next speaker, said no promises were made to the new members that they would receive leadership positions or other perks for switching.

U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, a former member of the Alabama House, said one reason the switch was significant is that all four legislators won their elections on Nov. 2 as Democrats. “They didn’t need to switch to win,” Rogers said.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.