The election was over two months ago but the change continues. Since November 2nd, 22 state legislators have switched parties. Probably the most important was State Rep. Walker Hines of New Orleans. He is only 26, but has been a member of the Louisiana House of Representatives for the past three years.
He represents an urban district which is home to rapper Lil Wayne.
When Walker left the Democrats the entire chamber flipped to GOP control. This is the first Republican majority since Reconstruction. Two other Democrats followed Walker and now Republicans have 53 of the 105 seats, and all the committee chairmanships. Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) considers it a major triumph.
Walker’s Democratic colleagues use to kid him because he always wanted to watch “The O’Reilly Factor” in the cloakroom. No one is kidding him about his fundraising ability. Walker spoke to Lil Wayne about giving back to the community and the result was a $200,000 contribution for new playgrounds in New Orleans.
It is not a huge surprise when a Democrat from a conservative rural district joins the GOP, but that has already happened in so many places. There were almost no Republicans in Georgia 30 years ago, but now only three Democrats represent rural districts. Some of the party switchers will have difficult re-election campaigns. The Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus in Georgia flipped even though he represents the liberal state university.
The GOP now has two-thirds majorities in both the Georgia House and Senate. Also changing parties was Ashley Bell, the former National President of the College Democrats of America, and a 2004 superdelegate to the Democratic Convention.
State Sen. Chris Steineger (KS) of Kansas City has held office for 14 years. He switched even though Obama received 64% of the vote in his district, and Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D) received 75%. He unsuccessfully ran for Secretary of State this year as a Democrat, and his father was the Senate Democratic Leader for 12 years. It will be interesting to see his voting record as a Republican.
State Rep. Aaron Peña (TX) switched and gave the GOP a super majority, but he represents a 70% Hispanic district. It should also be noted that some party switchers have been rejected. In the outgoing Congress, Rep. Parker Griffith (AL) became a Republican, but was defeated in the GOP primary.