Once upon a time, in 2008, an Alabama Democrat named Parker Griffith ran for the U.S. House of Representatives. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), a national party organization tasked with electing more Democrats to the U.S. House, spent over $1 million to help him. He won in November 2008.
Less than a year into office, in December 2009, lured by D.C. Republican leaders making false promises and facing a stiff challenge from a Republican candidate, Congressman Griffith abruptly switched parties and joined the Republican primary. Almost his entire Congressional staff, all the way down to the Washington intern, quit in protest. Key members of his re-election team bailed too.
(The DCCC formally requested their money back, but I don’t think that happened. Incidentally, Parker Griffith’s party switching, followed immediately by the DCCC doubling down on the soon-to-be-failed candidacy of ultra-conservative and dubiously-Democratic Alabama Congressman Bobby Bright, is why I stopped donating to the DCCC. They demonstrated a lack of vetting and a poor assessment of dollar allocation, in my opinion.)
In June 2010, Madison County Commissioner Mo Brooks resoundingly won the Republican primary against the newly-Republican incumbent, Parker Griffith, because Republican activists in the district refused to back the D.C. leadership in rewarding the switch. Brooks is now a member of Congress.
Three and a half years later (today), on the last day to do so, Griffith qualified* to run for Governor of Alabama in the … wait for it … Democratic Primary in June.
Should voters trust him?
Look, a lot of southern Democrats switched to the Republican Party starting in the late 1960s. Many had terrible, racist reasons for doing so, but they were longtime incumbents switching parties so they could stand by their convictions, however objectionable. At least that meant voters clearly knew where they stood. But, at any rate, the last big wave of reasonably sincere party-switching by Democrats was in the mid-1990s and most of them were re-elected easily — or even switched after being re-elected.
Parker Griffith was a freshman Congressman who switched parties because he was afraid he would lose. He had no convictions of being a conservative Republican — or else he would have run as one the first time — and he clearly had no convictions of being a Democrat — or he wouldn’t have left. His switch back to the Democrats makes both of those points clearer than ever.
I don’t live in his district or state but I’m still mad at him for switching parties in 2009 and voting against Democratic bills. Alabama Democrats shouldn’t — and probably won’t — trust him in this upcoming primary. He stands for nothing but himself. And who knows who that really is.
Plus, is he even committed to anything — including running for office? As summarized in a tweet by Alabama state government news reporter Mike Cason, despite throwing his hat in the ring…
Parker Griffith says he still has not made up his mind about his election plans. Discussing it with his wife outside Democrats’ office.
*For clarification, qualifying is similar to filing to run except a bit more intensive in Alabama, because “To qualify for elected office in Alabama, candidates must file documents with several entities: the Alabama Democratic Party (or local County Chair), the Alabama Ethics Commission, the Alabama Secretary of State or Probate Judge, and the IRS.”