A NOT-SO-WARM WELCOME…. Rep. Parker Griffith (Ala.) probably thought his plan would go smoothly. A conservative lawmaker from a conservative district, Griffith no doubt figured his professional future would be far more secure if he betrayed the party that helped him get elected, and became a Republican — the GOP would be thrilled with the pick-up, and the far-right voters back home would applaud the change.
As became quickly apparent yesterday, the plan was flawed.
A prominent right-wing blogger, even before Griffith officially announced his decision, told his readers, “We can pick this guy off and get a real Republican in that seat.” The right wing Club for Growth issued a statement expressing a similar sentiment.
In Alabama, Griffith was facing a variety of far-right challengers, all of whom seem undeterred by the former Democrat’s change of heart. Dave Weigel had a great report on this, highlighting the near-unanimous hostility the new Republican lawmaker is still facing from right-wing contingents in his district.
“This is an act of desperation to maintain power,” said [Les Phillip — a Tea Party activist who’d been waging a Republican campaign for Griffith’s seat since August]. “It’s exactly what people in this district are sick of. When someone lied before, and now says he’s telling the truth, well, was he lying then, or is he lying now?” […]
“We’ve known for a long time that Parker Griffith’s principles are either for sale to the highest bidder or can change depending on how the poll results are looking,” said a spokesman for Mo Brooks, a county commissioner who’d gotten some early support from the NRCC, in an interview with Politico. “He seems to speak out of both sides of his mouth.”
The harsh reactions of Brooks and Phillip were in line with the reactions of activists in Alabama’s fifth congressional district.
“He’s an S.O.B.,” said Dale Jackson, a conservative radio host who’s posted a banner reading “Parker Griffith Cannot Be Trusted” on his Website. “He’s a liar. Michael Steele should be ashamed of himself. The NRCC should be ashamed of itself for not coming out and immediately repudiating this guy. He was unacceptable a year ago and he’s acceptable now? A year ago, they were saying this guy was a murderer.”
And that’s really just scratching the surface. A variety of prominent Alabama Teabaggers and assorted right-wing leaders all said they don’t really trust Griffith, question his integrity, and planned to back others in the GOP primary.
In D.C., Republican officials were delighted by the party switch, but in a noticeable omission, the National Republican Congressional Committee did not throw its official support to the now-incumbent lawmaker from Alabama — a detail Griffith probably should have worked out before making the switch official.
Welcome to Republican politics, Parker Griffith. It will be all that you bargained for, and more.