Former conservative Democratic officials are helping to churn the Deep South into a red sea as they find friendlier waters in the Republican Party, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times
. And the expatriates aren’t just fringe elements of the Democratic Party but rather, former stars expected to make the party shine.
|Ashley Bell of Hall County, Ga.
For example, Ashley Bell, a county commissioner in Hall County, Ga., is a young black lawyer who had been president of the College Democrats of America, had advised presidential candidate John Edwards, and even spoke at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston.
But 30-year-old Bell joined the Republicans after the Democratic drubbing in the fall elections. He told the Times that he finds President Barack Obama’s healthcare law as seriously flawed, and he contends that conservative blue-dog Democrats in Congress who share that opinion were bullied into voting for Obamacare.
The Times chronicles Bell's defection as one among dozens of state and local Democratic officials in the Deep South in recent months as evidence that Republicans continue to consolidate power there.
"I think the midterms showed you really can't be a conservative and be a member of the Democratic Party," Bell told the Times.
Two dozen former Democrats would echo that, as the Times tallied 24 state senators and representatives who have switched in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and Texas. In some cases, the changes have shifted the balance of power, the Times notes.
Supporting the argument is Merle Black, a political science professor at Emory University in Atlanta, who told the Times that the party-switching reflects an evolving "top-down realignment" of the region's white voters from old-school conservative Democrat to Republican.
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