Texas Rep. Hall Joins GOP as Remap Ruling Looms

Posted January 3, 2004 at 10:58am

Texas Rep. Ralph Hall (D) has filed to run as a Republican in the 4th district, switching parties just days before a three-judge federal panel is expected to rule on a Republican-backed map that would significantly alter a number of Lone Star State districts, including Hall’s, according to several Capitol Hill sources speaking on the condition of anonymity late Friday.

Hall placed calls to Republican House leaders informing them of his decision to seek re-election as a Republican late Friday, but many Hill Democrats were left in the dark by his decision.

Hall said his decision to swap party allegiances was spurred by an inability to secure a project for his district in the year-end appropriations process. He also cited the Democratic presidential candidates’ repeated attacks on President Bush as a motivator for his choice.

The 13-term lawmaker could also have been concerned about facing a serious primary challenge from Rep. Max Sandlin (D), who saw much of his east Texas base thrown into Hall’s district under the GOP-backed redistricting plan. The federal panel is expected to rule either Monday or Tuesday on whether the map will be put in place for the 2004 elections.

One of the most conservative Democrats in the House Caucus, Hall has long been rumored to be a potential party-switcher. His close friendship with Bush has added fuel to those rumors. Hall spoke with Bush as well as House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) prior to switching.

Although party-switching was rampant in the wake of Republicans winning control of the House and Senate in the 1994 elections, few Members have traded allegiances in the past five years.

Michael Forbes went from Republican to Democrat in July 1999 and was subsequently defeated in the Democratic primary by an unknown candidate.

After losing a Democratic primary in 2000, California Rep. Matthew Martinez switched to the Republican Party for the remaining months of his term. Virginia Rep. Virgil Goode left the Democratic Party in January 2000 to become an Independent and eventually joined the Republican ranks in February 2002.