Rep. Parker Griffith (R-AL) has been getting a mixed reception from his state’s GOP officials, since he switched from the Democratic Party last week. Some of his new Alabama co-partisans are glad to have him in the party, while some are against it — and others even want to go so far as to ban him from the Republican primary.
State GOP chairman Mike Hubbard is welcoming Griffith despite the party’s past attacks on him, and Griffith’s own jousting with the state GOP when he was a state legislator. “It’s almost like coming to your church and asking forgiveness for past sins,” Hubbard told the Montgomery Advertiser. “You don’t turn them away. We’ll forgive him for his sins.”
On the other hand, state Treasurer Kay Ivey, a candidate for governor, hasn’t been so hospitable: “Political self-preservation isn’t a virtue. In fact, political expediency is an insult to every grassroots activist who commits untold hours in devotion to getting candidates elected.”
In addition there is Hugh McInnish, a Fifth Congressional District Republican committee member, who is proposing a drastic push-back against Griffith: Banning him from receiving the GOP nomination altogether. However, McInnish admitted to me that this idea was not likely to succeed at this juncture.“I would urge that we not exclude the question of barring the democrat from our ticket. People may not realize it. We have that power, and we have that right. I think we should seriously consider that,” McInnish told the CBS affiliate in Huntsville.
McInnish explained to me how the process works: The state executive committee can meet as a “candidates committee,” and can bar a candidate from seeking the Republican nomination for an office. The district committee itself, on which McInnish serves, cannot do that — they can petition the state committee, which is the sole body with such power.
Does the fact that the state party chairman Mike Hubbard has welcomed Griffith in, and declared his sins forgiven, speak poorly of McInnish’s plans? “It probably does, but I would say, ‘so what?’ You have to try to do what you think the right thing to do is,” McInnish responded. “One point of disagreement is that neither Hubbard nor any of the Washington crowd said one word to those of us who are the Republicans in the district about what they were going to do, and none of them vote in the district. And yet they were welcoming him into the party without any prior consultation with any of us whatsoever.”
Meanwhile, Democrats could be on the verge of actually having a candidate of their own. State Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks, who is currently running for governor, says he will decide in the next two days whether to switch to the Congressional race.