Rep. Parker Griffith (R-AL), who switched from the Democratic Party in December 2009, has been defeated in his Republican primary by Madison County Commissioner Mo Brooks. Griffith is now the second party-switcher to lose his new party’s primary this year, following Pennsylvania’s Republican-turned-Democratic Senator Arlen Specter.
Griffith has conceded the race. With 99% of precincts reporting, Brooks has 51% of the vote — just above the 50% needed to win without a runoff — with Griffith at 33% and businessman Les Phillip with 16%. Griffith was elected to a Democratic-held open seat in 2008, winning a 51%-49% race in a district that John McCain carried 61%-38%. He switched parties in 2009, citing the health care bill and Democratic spending as major reasons for his decision, after having already voted against such big-ticket Democratic items as the stimulus, cap-and-trade and health care.
Although Griffith was welcomed with open arms into the Republican caucus, his Republican opponents did not back out — Brooks and Phillip had already been running to take on the Democrat Griffith. And Republican primary voters have agreed with their decision. Brooks, who had the endorsement of local Tea Party activists and Griffith’s 2008 opponent, Wayne Parker, was able to dislodge the incumbent pretty easily.
Brooks very clearly harnessed the same distrust of an incumbent party-switcher that Joe Sestak seized on in Pennsylvania against Arlen Specter. Check out this ad that Brooks ran, in which Wayne Parker declared: “It’s time for a Congressman we can trust.”