For the first time since the end of Reconstruction, the Louisiana Democratic Party will no longer control the state legislature. On Friday State Representative Walker Hines (District 95-New Orleans) announced that he was leaving the Democratic Party and will officially join the Republican Party. The 26 year old Hines is the youngest member of the legislature and has been mulling a run for secretary of state in 2011. In a statement Hines said:
“Like most Louisianans, my discontent with the Democratic Party has grown over the past few years. This move is not about political expediency but rather my own principled philosophy. As a 100% pro-life, family values person of Faith, I strongly disagree with the policies and politics of President Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and the National Democratic Party. The job-killing moratorium imposed by the Obama Administration demonstrated a knee jerk reaction to score political points for his voter base outside of Louisiana. It was a rushed, irrational decision with politics in mind. Our State could not afford the detrimental impact of the federal government’s ban on deepwater oil exploration.
By joining the Republican Party, Hines gave the state GOP a one seat majority in the legislature. The 105 seat body now has 51 Republicans, 50 Democrats and 4 Independents. The Democrat Party still holds a 6 seat majority in the state senate.
Sen. John Alario of Westwego, the longest-serving Democrat in the Legislature, said he is “95 percent sure” he will switch to the Republican Party by the end of the year. Democrats in Washington “just aren’t getting the message” after huge loses in this month’s mid-term elections, he said.
The 38-year veteran of the Legislature said energy policies pushed by President Barack Obama’s administration and congressional Democrats will hurt oil-producing states such as Louisiana. He also said Obama could have done more to prevent the planned closure of the Northrup-Grumman shipyard at Avondale.
Senator Alario cited re-election concerns and said that he wanted to arrive at a decision prior to next year’s election, saying that “It wouldn’t be right to get re-elected and then switch parties.” Like many conservative Democrats, Alario has been concerned over the direction of the party for several years and is not happy about statements from certain party leaders blaming the Blue Dogs for the recent mid-term disaster. Alario said that “If the Blue Dogs don’t have a place in the Democratic Party, then I need to find another team to play on.”
Welcome back home Mr. Obama.