The Monroe News-Star has a piece up on the latest example of an ongoing phenomenon – namely, the flood of elected officials out of the Democrat Party.
The latest refugee is State Rep. Bubba Chaney of Rayville, who made his switch official today. With Chaney’s move, there are now 53 Republicans, 47 Democrats and four independents in the House, with one seat open (the one formerly held by Democrat-turned Republican Fred Mills, who just won a special election for the Senate) and set for a special election next month.
Chaney, who is serving his first term in the Louisiana Legislature, changed his party affiliation at the Richland Parish Courthouse late Monday afternoon.
“I just didn’t feel that my philosophy as a traditional conservative Blue Dog Democrat has a place anymore in the national party,” Chaney said. “The Republican Party better fits that philosophy and my personal values.
“This isn’t a reflection of my fellow Democrats in the Legislature. I have developed strong relationships and deep respect for my Democratic colleagues, and that won’t change. But for me, the national Republican Party better reflects my beliefs.”
The paper has a quote from Gov. Bobby Jindal on the switch…
“Bubba has always put Louisiana first no matter his party,” Jindal said. “The thing that is different in Louisiana compared to Washington is that we have a tradition of working across party lines.”
In Chaney, the state GOP is getting what it got in several of its other new Republicans like Noble Ellington, Walker Hines, John Alario and Fred Mills; namely, a politician whose voting record is quite good for a Democrat – but might need a little burnishing after the party switch. For example, Chaney’s 2010 rating by the Louisiana Family Forum was a middle-of the road 80 percent, which earned him the title of “Family Advocate” but not “Outstanding Family Advocate,” the top rung in their ratings. The two votes Chaney made that LFF didn’t like were his yes vote on the final state budget last year which allocated one-time funds to close a budget hole which still exists, and a bill to allow up to $100 million of state funds for select private attorney fees in litigating the BP oil spill.
The Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, though, was a big fan of the freshman Democrat. Chaney scored 100 percent with LABI, which rates his three-year performance at a healthy 89 percent.
Those are solid numbers. But as Louisiana moves to the right – a phenomenon Chaney’s switch only serves as further evidence of – he may need to stay ahead of the conservative wave.