Nine Democratic Legislators Have Switched to Republican Party Post-Election
(APN) ATLANTA — Nine Democratic legislators have now switched to the Republican Party since the November 2010 General Election.
State Rep. Mike Cheokas is the latest, as of December 20, 2010.
“I made this decision in careful consultation with members of my community after being approached by many of them and hearing their thoughts,” Rep. Cheokas said in a statement.
“As a member of the House since 2004, I have been driven to best represent the needs and interests of my constituents at the State Capitol in Atlanta. My fiscally conservative voting record reflects that effort and the views of my constituents, which ultimately led me to join the House Republican Caucus,” Cheokas said.
“Mike Cheokas is a principled leader who has demonstrated courage in putting the interests of his district ahead of political party,” House Speaker David Ralston said. “He will be a valuable and important member of our team, committed to an agenda that is focused on creating jobs and providing economic opportunities for Georgians.”
The Georgia House of Representatives now consists of 114 Republicans, 63 Democrats, and one independent.
Two seats are currently vacant due to the passing of Rep. Tony Sellier and the appointment of Rep. Mark Williams as Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, according to the House of Representatives Press Office.
Republicans are quite close–only five votes away–to having a Supermajority in the House, which would make Democrats almost completely insignificant.
Rep. James “Bubber” Epps switched on December 13.
Rep. Doug McKillip switched on December 08. He had just been elected Chair of the House Democratic Caucus.
“I’m extremely disappointed in Doug’s betrayal,” Democratic Party of Georgia director Jane Kidd said in a statement.
“Doug has turned his back on the voters that elected him. I’ve received multiple calls from his outraged constituents who have worked and voted for a progressive voice to represent them in Atlanta,” Kidd said.
“It is dishonest to say that he can’t get anything done within the minority party. For Doug to assume that he can best serve the University of Georgia as a Republican is disingenuous. Leaders of both parties have faithfully advanced this flagship institution since its inception,” Kidd said. “His donors deserve a refund; his voters deserve a recall,” Kidd said.
State Sen. Tim Golden switched on November 29.
Reps. Ellis Black and Amy Carter switched on November 22.
“This is where I belong,” Rep. Black said. “When I was first elected, we had conservative Democrats in the leadership of the Democratic Party; today, there are none. I have a ten-year record of voting the thinking of my constituents, and I believe I can best serve my constituents as a Republican.”
“I am excited about this transition,” Rep. Carter said. “Many changes were brought about by our last election, and I feel that I can best represent my district as a member of the Republican Party. My record shows that I have always maintained an independent mindset, and I will continue to reach across party lines for solutions that will benefit my constituents.”
As previously reported on APN’s blog, Reps. Gerald Greene, Bob Hanner, and Allen Powell had switched during the week and a half following the General Election.
The majority of the switches have been by moderate, White Democrats who served in rural districts.
According to the Georgia Political Report, only three White, rural Democrats remain in the State House.
According to Blog for Democracy, at least one other State Representative is considering a switch, and at least three others “really ought to be Republicans.” “We can’t afford any switches. Period,” the blog noted.
In related news, Hall County Commissioner Ashley Bell became one of the few Black Democrats to switch to the Republican Party in recent weeks.
Andre Walker of Georgia Politics Unfiltered blog also announced a switch to the Republican Party. Walker had previously served on a DPG committee; had volunteered for Donzella James in her Democratic campaign for US Congress; and had blogged positively about US Rep. David Scott (D-GA) and then-US Senate candidate Vernon Jones, while serving on their payrolls.
(END / 2010)