Freshman Democratic House member Parker Griffith of Alabama is switching to the Republican Party, his office said Tuesday, another blow to Democrats facing a potentially tough midterm election.
Griffith, 67, was narrowly elected last year from a region of northern Alabama that includes Huntsville and Decatur. President Barack Obama lost the district badly to Republican John McCain.
Griffith, a radiation oncologist, had accumulated one of the most conservative voting records of any House Democrat. He was one of seven Democrats to oppose Obama's economic stimulus measure early this year.
Special: Get Sarah Palin’s New Book – Incredible FREE Offer – Click Here Now.
He was one of 39 House Democrats who voted against a major healthcare bill that narrowly passed. He also voted against an anti-global warming bill pushed strongly by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
Democrats will hold 257 House seats to the GOP's 178 after Griffith's switch.
Several veteran House moderates have announced their retirements next year, giving Republicans hopes of picking up a significant number of seats in the November elections.
Jim Spearman, executive director of the Alabama Democratic Party, said the switch "shouldn't come as a surprise" with the way Griffith voted.
"We will be working strongly to put a Democrat in there," Spearman said.
© Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.