Could some more Democrats be switching sides in Georgia’s Legislature?
State Rep. Ellis Black, D-Valdosta, said Friday morning he remains in the House Democratic Caucus. But when asked about a possible switch to the majority Republican caucus, he said: “I have had discussions with some of the folks about doing something a number of times over the years. We have had some discussions here recently. But at this point and time, we are still just having discussions.”
He said Republican House Speaker David Ralston has been part of those discussions. Asked if a decision was imminent, Black said: “You never know about how the pace of negotiations will go.” But he said nothing would happen before the beginning of next week.
Three House Democrats have switched parties since last week’s election. Those defections left the House split among 111 Republicans, 68 Democrats and one independent. The Republicans now have their largest majority since Reconstruction. For the GOP, reaching 120 members in the House would be huge as it takes that many votes to pass proposed constitutional amendments or to override a gubernatorial veto.
So what precipitated all of this with Black?
“The issues have gotten really divisive,” he said. “You can go back and check my voting record. I have voted very conservatively. I have voted with the Republicans more than some of the Republicans have. People in my district are very conservative.
“The Democratic Party is fixing to move in a more ideological direction,” he added. “I think the National (Democratic) Party has gotten too far to the left and certainly much further to the left of what Georgia is. And I think that is the problem in Washington.”
Black also indicated he and Rep. Amy Carter, D-Valdosta, are in the same situation.
“We have done things in the past as a team,” he said. “We are going to handle this as a team.”
Carter did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Asked about Black and Carter, a spokesman for the Republican speaker said there was nothing to report, at least not yet.
“We would certainly welcome them,” said Ralston spokesman Marshall Guest, “but at this point I haven’t had any confirmation that they have switched parties.”