The two candidates who were already competing in the GOP primary for the right to take on Alabama Rep. Parker Griffith next year gave no indication Tuesday that they plan to yield to Griffith now that the freshman Congressman has switched parties to become a Republican.
Madison County Commissioner Mo Brooks (R) said Tuesday afternoon that he won’t be clearing out of the GOP primary in Alabama’s 5th district to make way for Griffith. Brooks also warned the Congressman that his party switching ways will not go over well with GOP primary voters, who make up the vast majority of the 48 percent of the 5th district electorate that voted against Griffith in the 2008 general election.
“That’s a tough jury to sell, particularly when you’ve voted with [Speaker] Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) 85 percent of the time,— Brooks said. “It’s unbelievably good fortune that Parker Griffith would jump into our pool and want to play. … He has just propelled us to favored candidate status.—
“I don’t know what was promised to get him— to switch parties, Brooks added. “But I am thankful to everyone who was involved with it.—
Brooks has served as a county commissioner since 1996 and represents about 45,000 people around Huntsville. He ran for lieutenant governor of Alabama in 2006, and though he came in third in the Republican primary, he garnered more votes in the 5th district than both of the top two candidates in that race combined.
In addition to Brooks, Griffith will have to face Navy veteran Les Phillip (R) in the primary. Phillip is an African-American who has helped the state and national party with minority outreach.
Phillip told state newspapers Tuesday that Griffith still has “a lot to answer for— about his voting record in Washington, D.C., and called Griffith a “liberal Democrat— who helped party leaders move their agenda forward earlier this year.
“I have to wonder,— Phillip said, “why the change of heart now after Parker Griffith has repeatedly stood behind Nancy Pelosi and participated in the liberal politics going on in Washington today?—
Griffith’s Republican foes could have some help in the primary: The anti-tax Club for Growth on Tuesday issued a missive criticizing Griffith’s voting record and questioning his conservative credentials.
Meanwhile, Alabama Democratic Party Chairman Joe Turnham vowed that Griffith’s former party would field a formidable foe against him.
“Alabama Democrats have a deep political bench in the 5th District and we will nominate a formidable challenger to fill this seat next year,— Turnham said in a statement. “If Congressman Griffith survives a Republican Primary battle next year, he should be prepared to bring his lunch if he hopes to hold this seat in November of 2010. Our folks are motivated to right this wrong.—
But as of Tuesday evening, no Democrat had publicly expressed an interest in running.