POLITICO has learned that Rep. Parker Griffith, a freshman Democrat from Alabama, will announce today that he’s switching parties to become a Republican.
According to two senior GOP aides familiar with the decision, the announcement will take place this afternoon in Griffith’s district in northern Alabama.
Griffith’s party switch comes on the eve of a pivotal congressional health care vote and will send a jolt through a Democratic House Caucus that has already been unnerved by the recent retirements of a handful of members who, like Griffith, hail from districts that offer prime pickup opportunities for the GOP in 2010.
The switch represents a coup for the House Republican leadership, which had been courting Griffith since he publicly criticized the Democratic leadership in the wake of raucous town halls during the summer.
Rep. Griffith’s announcement comes on the heels of a wave of Blue Dog Democrat retirements, for the moment his switch has far more symbolic than substantive value… The Democrats still have a 40 seat majority in the House. I do suspect, however, that Rep. Griffith won’t be the last Blue Dog to jump ship. There’s pretty sizable anti-Democrat wave sweeping the country and unless something changes drastically between now and November 2, 2010 Congressional Democrats would appear to be headed for a fall.