Griffith, who captured the seat in a close 2008 open seat contest, will become the first Republican to hold the historically Democratic, Huntsville-based district. A radiation oncologist who founded a cancer treatment center, Griffith plans to blast the Democratic health care bill as a prime reason for his decision to switch parties—and is expected to cite his medical background as his authority on the subject.He's the Democrat who already announced that he wouldn't vote for Pelosi for Speaker.
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.
“Look at his voting record – he’s had substantial differences philosophically with the Democratic agenda here in Congress,” said an Alabama ally who is familiar with Griffith’s decision. “It’s something that’s been discussed for the last several months… talking to people in his family. And it genuinely is a reflection of where he feels. It’s his own personal conviction.”
The Obama administration’s decision to scrap plans to build a missile defense shield in Eastern Europe further frustrated Griffith, according to GOP sources, because his district contains the base for Boeing’s ground-based missile defense research.
This is a very interesting move. Being in the minority in the House of Representatives is a very frustrating experience. All you can do is complain and attack what the majority does. So there is no reason to switch for this term. He could have stayed in and demanded goodies parallel to what Ben Nelson got. However, facing a very tough reelection race, he probably figures that if he wants to make political hay out of a party switch, it's better to do it early than to wait until later. He'll now face a much easier reelection next year. And the GOP will have a bit of a PR coup to put him out there as a former doctor and a former Democrat to blast the bill.
The Club for Growth isn't too impressed.
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.Republicans in his district might prefer a real Republican instead of one who has a vote for Nancy Pelosi on his resume.
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.