2014 fallout: Democratic officeholders jumping ship for the GOP

In the wake of Tuesday’s drubbing, soft Democrats in Congress are pledging to stand with the president’s party… for now.

So-called independent Sen. Angus King (I-ME) backed off his pledge to caucus with the majority party in the 114th Congress on Wednesday. He was joined by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) who represents a state which is shifting rapidly from blue to red without the requisite stopover into purple territory.

The story is not the same on the state-level. As the fallout from the 2014 tsunami settles, a wave of party jumpers is sapping the Democrats of authority on the legislative level.

In Manchin’s home state, Democratic state Senator Daniel Hall announced on Wednesday that he would shed his party identity and join the Republican Party. “The Senator, who was not up for re-election on Tuesday, told Eyewitness News over the phone, that the people in his district voted in large numbers against the Democratic Party and he made the change, to best represent their interests,” a local West Virginia CBS outlet reported.

Surely, Hall’s own interests will also be served nicely by the flip. His switch reverses a 17-17 member tie in the state Senate which was to be broken by the state’s Democratic gubernatorial administration. Republicans are now the majority party in West Virginia’s state Senate. The GOP also took control of the state’s House of Delegates on Tuesday night for the first time in 83 years.

Hall was not the only soft Democrat on the legislative level to abandon the president’s party. In Missouri on Wednesday, Rep. Linda Black shed her party label and determined to become a Republican.

“With the addition of Black, Republicans now hold 118 House seats, nine more than the 109 needed to override the governor on a party line vote,” The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. “They also hold 25 Senate seats, two more than the 23 needed to override the governor on a party line vote.”

Black ran unopposed on Tuesday and was reelected by her Desloge constituents as a Democrat, promoting the state’s House Democratic minority leader to call her flip a “deceptive bait and switch.” No matter. Certainly, the majority Republicans in the Show Me State’s legislature will see to Black’s interests.

While this phenomenon seems contained on the legislative level, cautious observers say it is a good bet to watch the Congress. No one likes serving in the minority, particularly if joining the majority is a viable option.

An earlier version of this post identified the next Congress as the 115th Congress