Red meat from the GOP’s newest chef, whose transition was evidently months in the making. Fun fact #1: He’s pro-life, pro-gun, voted no on the stimulus, cap-and-trade, and ObamaCare, and he’s the first Republican to fill his district’s seat since Reconstruction. Fun fact #2: Sounds like the Club for Growth might try to primary him anyway.
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.
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.
He passes all the major litmus tests and just handed conservatives their biggest PR coup of the year at a moment when Blue Dogs in the House are already jittery about the health-care vote. And the plan, maybe, is … to weaken him with a primary? He’s already weak: He won last year with just 52 percent and is bound to bleed some support from loyal Dixiecrats disgruntled by the party switch. Only conservatives could be handed the gift of incumbency in a district they haven’t controlled for 140 years and decide that the thing to do now is try to bump the guy off before the general election. (I kid. The nutroots would do that too.)
As for the bigger picture, see Jay Cost. There are still a few Dixiecrat strongholds left, but thanks to Hopenchange, they won’t be that way for much longer:
Bottom line: while we shouldn’t expect any MSM pundit discussions about how Griffith’s departure is a sign of the “narrowing” of the Democratic Party, this is still a noteworthy development. Just as the Republican Party’s rightward and Southern shift has placed a burden on moderate Northeastern Republicans, so the Democratic Party’s leftward and Northern shift has put pressure on moderate Southern Democrats. Now that the liberal Democrats are in charge – pushing their agenda and taking responsibility for the state of the Union – this pressure has become more salient. Griffith may or may not be the only Democrat to make an actual jump to the GOP, but his departure from the Democratic Party underscores the tension between the liberal leadership and many Southern moderates as the House prepares for a big health care vote.
We saw a similar dynamic in 1993-95, as moderate Democrats in the House (e.g. Billy Tauzin of Louisiana) and the Senate (e.g. Richard Shelby of Alabama) jumped to the GOP. That sets up the following expectation: if the GOP picks up 35 to 39 seats next year, John Boehner and Eric Cantor will work like the dickens to convince some disgruntled moderate Democrats to make the jump to the GOP.
Two clips for you here, one of Griffith laying into the Dems and the other of him laying into ObamaCare. Fun fact #3, per Cost’s last point: There are 15 Democrats who are more conservative than Griffith according to this scorecard, so expect them to be Boehner’s prime targets — assuming any of them are left standing when the smoke clears on election day. Click the image to watch.