Switching Parties

02.03.14

Parker Griffith Re-Rats

Former Alabama Rep. Parker Griffith who defected from the Democratic Party to the GOP in 2009 is now returning to his political roots to run for Governor.

In the 1920s, after switching from the Conservative Party to the Liberals and back to the Conservatives again, Winston Churchill famously remarked "anyone can rat, but it takes a certain amount of ingenuity to re-rat." Now former one-term Congressman Parker Griffith is reportedly trying to follow in Churchill's footsteps by returning to the Democratic Party after defecting to the GOP halfway through his lone term in Congress.

Griffith was elected to a North Alabama district in 2008 that had long been a Democratic redoubt in the midst of a deep red sea. Based in Huntsville, a city with significant number of federal employees, it included areas made prosperous by the New Deal and the Tenneesse Valley Authority in the 1930s that had stayed loyally Democratic ever since. But, in 2009, Griffith, a former state senator just elected to succeed longtime incumbent Democrat Bud Cramer, switched parties. While this nominally gave him the advantage of incumbency, Republicans didn't quite flock to the former Howard Dean donor in a primary dominated by the Tea Party wave of 2010. Griffith lost badly by 51%-33% to Mo Brooks, a county commissioner, in an attempt to to get the Republican nomination for Congress. Brooks went on to be the first Republican elected to Congress from the seat since Reconstruction. Griffith tried again in 2012 against Brooks and lost by an even greater margin, 71%-29%. Soon afterwards, he left the Republican Party to become an Independent. But, on Monday, it was reported that the erstwhile Democrat was returning to his political roots.

WHNT in Huntsville, Alabama reported that Griffith is rejoining the Democratic Party in order to run for Governor in 2014. According to WHNT, the Alabama Democratic Party has welcomed back its prodigal son and is ready to embrace his candidacy for Governor. His candidacy would mark a sad step in the decline of the Alabama Democratic Party. Alabama had only two Republican governors in the entire 20th century. It has had two Republican governors so far in the 21st century as the state has become firmly Republican. Perhaps the best hope of the Alabama Democratic Party in the past decade, former Rep. Artur Davis lost a gubernatorial primary and then moved to Virginia where he became a Republican. The result is a bench so deciminated that the Alabama Democrats are now forced to get behind a candidate who has averaged nearly a political affiliation a year since 2009.

But, then again, Winston Churchill went through a similar period in the early 1920s. The only question is whether Parker Griffith is a politician of the same caliber as the Nobel Prize winner credited with saving Europe from Nazi domination. But that's up to the voters of Alabama to decide.