Democratic Party seeing influx of moderate Republicans

Welcome home, Reagan Democrats!

Donkey Rising points to admittedly anecdotal evidence of mass Republican defections to the Democratic Party:

Paul Harris of the Guardian Unlimited Observer reports on the resignation of the Kansas GOP Chairman Mark Parkinson and his candidacy for Deputy Governor — as a Democrat. Writes Harris:

His defection to the Democrats sent shockwaves through a state deeply associated with the national Republican cause and the evangelical conservatives at its base. Nor was it just Parkinson’s leave-taking that left Republicans spluttering with rage and talking of betrayal. It was that as he left Parkinson lambasted his former party’s obsession with conservative and religious issues such as gay marriage, evolution and abortion.

Sitting in his headquarters, the new Democrat is sticking to his guns. Republicans in Kansas, he says, have let down their own people. ‘They were fixated on ideological issues that really don’t matter to people’s everyday lives. What matters is improving schools and creating jobs,’ he said. ‘I got tired of the theological debate over whether Charles Darwin was right.’

Could this be a harbinger of a nation-wide trend of substance-hungry Republicans becoming Democrats? Maybe, suggests Harris:

…in a swath of heartland states such as Kansas, Democrats are seeing the first signs of their party’s rebirth. Parkinson is not alone in switching sides. In Virginia, Jim Webb, a one-time Reagan official, is seeking to be a Democrat senator. In South Carolina, top Republican prosecutor Barney Giese has defected after a spat with conservatives. Back in Kansas another top Republican, Paul Morrison, also joined the Democrats and is challenging a Republican to be the state attorney-general.

…Parkinson’s defection encouraged other moderates to abandon a party controlled by right-wing religious zealots. In political terms they are called Rinos, or Republicans in Name Only. If enough Rinos desert, the strict ideologues in the party are likely to drift further right.

Yeah, we know, this is largely anecdotal. But significant Rino defections have also been documented in recent polls (see Alan Abramowitz’s May 17 EDM post, for example).

 

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