Updated: Two black Democrats bolt party for GOP

Two African-American Democrats on Thursday announced that they were joining the Republican Party.

Hall County Commissioner Ashley Bell and former state executive committee member Andre Walker said the Democratic Party had grown too liberal and they are finding a new home with the Republicans.

The state GOP touted Bell as the first black elected official in modern times in Georgia to leave the Democrats for the GOP. But that distinction belongs to former state Sen. Roy Allen of Savannah, who joined the Republican Party in 1994.

Bell was introduced as a Republican at a news conference Thursday at party headquarters.

“My district is pretty Republican as it is,” Bell told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “My wife and I have been thinking about this for six months.”

He said they are both conservative “and the Democratic Party has been our home. The party had conservatives and liberals both in the party. [But] this election showed us the liberal wing of the Democratic Party is very, very strong. If your’e a conservative, it became more difficult to be in the Democratic Party.”

Bell, a former national president of the College Democrats of America, was a 2004 delegate to the Democratic National Convention.

Bell has two more years left on his term and said he was switching now to make his intentions known. He said he plans to run for re-election as a Republican.

Walker, who runs the political blog Georgia Unfiltered, resigned from the Democratic Party’s state executive committee. Walker was a delegate to the 2004 Democratic National Convention and is a former president of College Democrats of Georgia.

“Since the first Democratic lawmaker bolted to the Republican Party, left-leaning activists have mocked and ridiculed those individuals as being self-serving people only looking for ways to remain in office,” Walker told the AJC. “But I’m not an elected official. I don’t hold public office. I’m not trying to protect my seat. I don’t have a seat to protect. I’m just a regular citizen with a healthy interest in the political process, and I’m joining the GOP because of ideology.”

Walker, who has been increasingly critical of the Democratic Party in recent weeks,  said he looks “forward to convincing other people who look like me that it’s okay to vote Republican and support Republican candidates.   It’s time for the black vote to be competitive again.”

But Democrats were critical of the decisions by Bell and Walker.

“Over a year ago at an event at the White House, Ashley Bell looked me in the eye, and told me that the rumors weren’t true – he wouldn’t switch parties,” said College Democrats of America alumni spokesman Frank Chi in a statement. “We need politicians who stand on principle, not opportunism. We’re disappointed in Ashley, but we’re not surprised. As the College Democrats Alumni Association fosters a new generation of principled leaders, we know that Ashley Bell will be our cautionary tale.”

Eric Gray, spokesman for the Democratic Party of Georgia, was more succinct: “Andre Walker switching parties is news?”

204 comments Add your comment

AH

December 9th, 2010
11:07 am

BW

December 9th, 2010
11:17 am

Definitely getting primaried…this bi*** move won’t save you

ml

December 9th, 2010
11:36 am

one party system. religious based. it would be stupid to run as a democrat anymore. the demonizing of that brand name is complete. one party system where you have the freedom of choice to vote for either this religious corporate backed power hungry club members only aristocrat candidate or the other one that looks just like him.

Politics

December 9th, 2010
11:37 am

He knows its the only way to have a political career in GA.

Test Tube Tommy

December 9th, 2010
11:55 am

Why do we have to note that he’s “black” or “African American”? He’s just another common sense individual out there that’s tired of being spoon fed the liberal BS.

david

December 9th, 2010
11:57 am

Please remember to attend the Xmas party at Pink Pony tonight! Buffett and drinks free from 9-10.

I am surprised

December 9th, 2010
12:06 pm

This is another “punk move” by an elected official. If he was so comfortable as a Republican, why didn’t he present himself as a Republican during the election. This bait and switch routine is unacceptable. I have the same view if the swicth was reverse. I have no issues if an elected official wishes to switch parties. But do it before you are elected.

As a black man, I am also offended the AJC felt the need to call out his race. His race has ABSOLUTELY nothing to do with the story. Previous stories about officials making the switch did not lead with “white democrat moves to GOP”. The racial aspect of the story seems to be designed to provoke not to inform.

The Ghost of Lester Maddox

December 9th, 2010
12:11 pm

I just love it. The ground is shaking beneath the ultra-liberal, elitist, race-baiting, union-controlled, tax-and-spend democratic party. They have lost their choke hold on independents, and now they are beginning to lose the blacks and the women, too.

Hee hee hee.

WOW

December 9th, 2010
12:14 pm

Well that should give the Ga.GOP cover as they prepare that rope to lynch Micheal Steele.OOOPs and no hoods to be worn at the next gathering.Don’t want to scare the new members.

td

December 9th, 2010
12:17 pm

I am surprised

December 9th, 2010
12:06 pm

As a black man, I am also offended the AJC felt the need to call out his race. His race has ABSOLUTELY nothing to do with the story. Previous stories about officials making the switch did not lead with “white democrat moves to GOP”. The racial aspect of the story seems to be designed to provoke not to inform.

I am not and I am happy they included his race. I know there at least 25% of African Americans that are true conservatives but are afraid to come out of the closet because f the ridicule they will receive from the liberal African Americans. This elected official taking this brave step will help strip that liberal yoke around their necks and they will be able to leave the plantation and come to the freedom loving side of the aisle.

eugene

December 9th, 2010
12:27 pm

I agreed with all other comments that viewed this as a cop-out move. He should have stated his intentions during the elections. The banwagon is moving towards repubs and only those with resolve will remain. He’s a coward of the first order. His ethnicity has no place in this situation, last week when the fellow from Athens made the switch, headlines did not say whitem man switched from dem to repub. But this is Georgia and race will always be an issue!

UGA Guy

December 9th, 2010
12:30 pm

Dishonest and dishonorable. He should fit in nicely with the partisan crooks that run the GOP.

double

December 9th, 2010
12:31 pm

all times someone not happy because race pointed out.If that is the only problems we have, then good.Were it not for the AJC being fair, and impartial reporting news, then all races living in the news area would be less if at all informed.

HDB

December 9th, 2010
12:33 pm

The question now is this: WIll the GOP HONESTLY be open to addressing minority issues….and campaign in the INNER CITIES?? If not, this is just another BS move by someone who is kowtowing to maintain his electability!!

Alright

December 9th, 2010
12:33 pm

My good friend Ashley, I expected this from you. Because I know how you think, this was a pretty wise move. You have my support as long as you stay on the right path. Good luck Commissioner!

Traitor(s)

December 9th, 2010
12:41 pm

There is absolutely nothing worst than a traitor…JUDAS. I don’t care who you are or which party you’ve affiliated with, to just switch shows how fake and disingenuous you were all along. YOU CAN “NEVER” TRUST A TRAITOR.

Church Guy

December 9th, 2010
12:42 pm

He realizes that he will never again be re elected to serve the district of Hall County he represents. Don’t be surprised if Gov. elect Deal doesn’t hand him a sweet state job.

Traitor(s)

December 9th, 2010
12:44 pm

Neither the leaving party or the receiving party can ever trust a traitor because they have told you that they swing any way the wind blows. When you betray your party affiliation, you render yourself null and void. You count for absolutely nothing, and I agree it has nothing to do with race. A traitor, by any other name, is a traitor just the same.

Traitor(s)

December 9th, 2010
12:51 pm

It’s like saying, “Hmmmm, my home is on shaky ground and I see difficulty ahead, but my neighbor “seems” to be doing just fine, so I am dumping my family and joining my neighbor’s family.” The thing to remember is that everything that glitters is not gold. The Rethuglicans ultimately will make Georgia shed briny tears. We already rate near the bottom of smarts and credibility in the country, but we are fast becoming the scum of the earth like the other deeply southern states. We are moving from borderline scum to the bottom of the pit.

Traitor(s)

December 9th, 2010
12:59 pm

ALL campaign money from the party being deserted should be refunded in one lump sum. It is gosh awful to use one party to get elected and then, poof, I’m going to the other party. How sick and deceiptful is that? My posts are about ALL THE RECENT TRAITORS, not just this one.

Pullar

December 9th, 2010
1:04 pm

Free at last, free at last! What a move Ashley! The people blasting you don’t really know you. I applaud your boldness. What idiot in your political position wants to go down with a sinking ship. Finally, an African American elected official with some cajones!!!

William

December 9th, 2010
1:09 pm

Let’s see. The GOP made a move to hold up unemployment benefits for those who’ve worked to earn them, fought for a tax break for the super rich who obviously have a problem paying there share to support this country, and denied Social Security recipience a one time 250 dollar bonus. Says a lot about you Ashley. Seems the “Thug” life appeals to you too.

itamazesme

December 9th, 2010
1:24 pm

it is all a competition to them all – whether it be black or white – male or female – D or R – they are all poLIEticians. They all do whatever they think will help them gain or retain a position.

cs

December 9th, 2010
1:39 pm

Another spy in the GOP. Good work kissing his arse, suckers.

cs

December 9th, 2010
1:48 pm

“I am not and I am happy they included his race. I know there at least 25% of African Americans that are true conservatives but are afraid to come out of the closet because f the ridicule they will receive from the liberal African Americans.”

That’s an excuse? Us “cracker rednecks” make fun of liberals of every race. And even the white liberal loons call us racist, homophobes, etc. Think we care? Nahhhhhhh

Traitor(s)

December 9th, 2010
1:48 pm

Ashley Bell, rethugs USE weaklings like you to help them get more Black people voting rethuglican. Assuming they could achieve that, we all know that once the vote is cast, you have used up your usefulness to them. Ashley, Black people really aren’t as stupid as folk would make them out to be, and not even you can make us vote against our own best interest.

You can say that the Democratics don’t do much for us, which is true to an extent, but rethugs do absolutely nothing for Black people or poor people. They have now even thrown the middle class, Black, white, and all others, under the bus too. You get no praise for being a traitor, but I hope it makes you feel good about yourself. By the way, Ashley Bell, NO ONE can trust a traitor.

GA VOTER

December 9th, 2010
1:55 pm

African-Americans are slowly escaping the Democrat plantation of high taxes, welfare and government dependency.

td

December 9th, 2010
1:56 pm

Where is the “uncle Tom” comments or the “Porch Nword” comments. Come on now you are letting me down, I was ready for you African American libs to have already slammed this board with them.

I am surprised

December 9th, 2010
2:03 pm

To TD,

I have no idea what the source of your information that you know for a fact 25% of African Americans are conservative. Despite the fact, you have not true facts to support this claim, the real issue remains that elected officials practicing this bait and switch is simply wrong. The fact remains, that race has no relevance to the story.

Chuck Allison

December 9th, 2010
2:29 pm

The democrats have come to symbolize all that is evil, including abortion, homosexuality, “redistribution of wealth”, racebaiting, the lottery, atheism, pro-pornography judges, and spending with no conscience. If we can replace the dems with a new more conservative party, then the Republicans can keep their same platform but become the new liberals- unless they show themselves responsibile and fast-acting.

Gm

December 9th, 2010
3:03 pm

Test Tube Tommy:He’s just another common sense individual out there that’s tired of being spoon fed the liberal BS.
Lets see the Rep pary of No, held unemployment for millions of people with families hostage, you idiots voted these people back in, Deal is going to cut education, teachers pay and you are happy to be with satan and the Rep Party?
This African American person is another brain washed confused person who has no connection of who he is.
He will learn that poor conservatives whites love to get pimp by rich whites Sara, Rush, Beck and if he ever run for Gov or State Sen he will never get these so call fake conservatives to vote for him because of the color of his skin.
Keep it real”””

Traitor(s)

December 9th, 2010
3:07 pm

Chuck, the rethuglicans are deceiptful. They do all those things, but try to hide it from their gullible constituents who do the same things too. LingOL

Furious Styles

December 9th, 2010
3:11 pm

HA! Appreciate your honesty….Enjoy it while you can, oh save your money too, you won’t be commish in that county the next go round. The people in that county will never accept you on the next run.

Ed Graham

December 9th, 2010
3:26 pm

At this rate, the next Georgia Democratic Party convention will be held in someone’s living room.

SpaceyG on Twitter

December 9th, 2010
3:31 pm

Wake me up when Andre converts to Catholicism too. Like Newt. No one ever took Andre for a Georgia Dem! A sock puppet for a few weirdos here and there maybe. LMAO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Mac Dobbs

December 9th, 2010
3:36 pm

This is a betrayal of all the people who believe in Democratic principles who voted for this guy. He is an opportunist who has no princples and will do anything to get elected. This should be outlawed – if he wants to switch parties, he should be made to run again.

Will

December 9th, 2010
3:38 pm

The defeat of liberalism once and for all will be complete by 2012!

Kevin B

December 9th, 2010
3:46 pm

I am a very conservative person…not republican but I pretty much vote republican. However, I completely agree that if you represent yourself as a Democrat (or Republican), you should be obligated to finish your term in the party you were elected to. Also, I agree that the definition of him being black has absolutely nothing to do with the story. With all of that said, the Democratic party has gotten way too liberal for mainstream America and if they do not reign in the Nancy Pelosi types of the party then it will soon be an antiquated regime. We are not European Socialists….we are Americans. We have American values. If you don’t like it, don’t come here.

RGB

December 9th, 2010
3:50 pm

Welcome Aboard Gentlemen!

We are glad to have you!

Snafu

December 9th, 2010
3:53 pm

This is voter fraud to say the least. They ran on a Democratic ticket and should remain a Democrat until the next election. This seems to be an ongoing thing and the people who voted these cowards in need to recall them. They lied to the people period. If he wanted to vote with the Republicans fine but don’t win an election as one party then claim “its too liberal” as your excuse to CON the people. The problem with these so called elected officials is they are only in this for “self”! Wake up people time to hold them accountable.

JF McNamara

December 9th, 2010
3:55 pm

People are acting in their best interest. We’re becoming a one party State regardless of ideals just because people want to get elected.

SAY IT AINT SO

December 9th, 2010
3:57 pm

William, people have not earned 3 years of unemployment. Unemployment is insurance paid for by your employer. It is good for 26 weeks and then you are allowed a 13 week extension if you fail to find a job in the first 26 weeks. I dont know where you think that unemployment is a government gift but has turned into another welfare program.

In my opinion, after the first 26 weeks of unemployment a person should have to qualify by income for any government assistance as it is essentially welfare just by another name. We have enough generational welfare people on that roll. Dont you think its in the publics best interest for the tax rates to stay the same and business get back to creating jobs. That will help a lot more people then having them on the 2nd welfare program.

Oh and while they are stooping this bill the house democrates passed the bill that allows illegals to stay. It wont pass the senate but thats what your dems care about. Illegals over americans. Oh yea theres your democrates for you.

Snafu

December 9th, 2010
3:58 pm

Chuck Allison..the problem with people like you is you are aparty loyalist regardless of how bad the party turns out to be. Its not about Republican or Democrats its about the people in which these dumb politrickans have been voted in to represent. I don’t care what party is the majority, I look at the group of people who were voted in to do the right thing, but as we know that will not happen because they are corporate who..res! When are the people going to stop with the divisiveness and learn that the more the people are against each other the more they can pass laws against the very people they are suppose to represent. But then again, who really reads those pesky laws anyway..majority of people just listen to the ilk on the tv and radio and believe all that is heard.

Its a joke

December 9th, 2010
3:59 pm

Dems dont want to lose their easy bread so they are switching parties. Once again they think Americans are stupid. Some of them are but the majority of Americans see straight through them as evidenced in November.

RAMBLE ON!!!

December 9th, 2010
3:59 pm

Yes, the free thinking blacks in the USA are finally waking up and scratching their heads wondering, since we’ve been voting democrat for the last 50 years, what have we gotten in return?

The majority of prison population, single parent families, unemployed workers, and welfare entitlements.

It sure does make the liberals feel righteous and sanctimonious, throwing you a few food stamps and unemployment checks while they continue…as Charlie Rangel would say, “not your average American”, while they drink their martini’s and wine calling Republican’s “racist”.

The Aristocrat

December 9th, 2010
4:01 pm

Demonizing an individual for re-evaluating their stance is foolish. A person that votes and acts along party lines only demonstrates their inability to think for them self.

drjay

December 9th, 2010
4:05 pm

“Bell is believed to be the first black elected official in Georgia to leave the Democrats for the GOP.”

no he’s not, roy allen did it back in the early to mid 90’s when he was still a state senator…

RAMBLE ON!!!

December 9th, 2010
4:15 pm

Hey Gm

here’s something that should make you happy.

http://news.yahoo.com/nphotos/slideshow/photo//101209/480/urn_publicid_ap_org86ef0dc0b7a74ffeb3ea12d580311f86/

…nobody really takes you serious…that has a 5th grade education that is.

Jose

December 9th, 2010
4:16 pm

I do believe that some African-Americans are slowly starting to see that the democratic party uses them for their entightlement bills and keeps them in check. I have said it before, the democratic party is the largest slave owners in the free world.

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