POLITICAL EARTHQUAKE – AT 8:39 A.M. ET: The Democratic debacle, which started on election day, continues. Many don't realize, with so much attention paid to congressional races, how much damage is being done to Democrats at the state level. The Los Angeles Times, quite a liberal paper, has a devastating report:
Reporting from Atlanta — For Democrats, Ashley Bell was the kind of comer that a party builds a future on: A young African American lawyer, he served as president of the College Democrats of America, advised presidential candidate John Edwards and spoke at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston.
But after his party's midterm beat-down in November, Bell, a commissioner in northern Georgia's Hall County, jumped ship. He joined the Republicans.
Bell, 30, said he had serious issues with the healthcare law and believed that conservative "blue dog" Democrats in Congress who shared his values had been bullied into voting for it.
Bell's defection is one of dozens by state and local Democratic officials in the Deep South in recent months that underscore Republicans' continued consolidation of power in the region — a process that started with presidential politics but increasingly affects government down to the level of dogcatcher.
"I think the midterms showed you really can't be a conservative and be a member of the Democratic Party," Bell said.
Since the midterm election, 24 state senators and representatives have made the switch in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and Texas.
In some cases, the ramifications have been profound: In Louisiana, defecting Democrats gave Republicans a majority in the state House for the first time since Reconstruction; in Alabama, they delivered the GOP a House supermajority. Republicans have 65 votes to the Democrats' 39, enough to pass constitutional amendments over Democratic opposition.
COMMENT: Parties are built at the state level. The South is truly rising again...for the party of Abraham Lincoln.
February 7, 2011