Rep. Eric Cantor (R., Va.), the House minority whip, tells NRO that Democratic Rep. Parker Griffith’s switch to the Republican party is a “huge statement” that will “increase Republicans’ likelihood of taking back the majority” in Congress next year. “This really could be the beginning of a trend,” he says. “You have to handicap this in our favor.”
Griffith, a freshman from Alabama’s 5th congressional district, has often quarreled with Democratic House leadership during his first year in Congress. Cantor says that the political disconnect between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) and moderate Democrats is “striking.”
“Anytime that a member of the 258-seat majority decides to switch to a party in deep-minority status is a major example of trouble on the other side of the aisle,” says Cantor. “For someone to say that he can’t live under Democratic rule in the House really raises some eyebrows. Park this news with the recent retirements of Blue Dog Democrats and you really see an increase in momentum for Republicans. Moderates don’t see a place for themselves in this Democratic party.”
The current agenda being promoted by the Democrats is one of the key reasons for Griffith’s switch, says Cantor. “He’s spoken to us repeatedly about his concerns. His voting record is very much right-of-center and where independents are in this country. He agrees that jobs are the number-one issue in the minds of most Americans.” Griffith, a doctor, also has major concerns about Obamacare, he says.
Cantor sees Griffith’s announcement as an open invitation for others frustrated Democrats to join the GOP. House Republicans are intent on building a “new governing coalition that is center-right,” he says. “We’re bent on solving the problems of everyday Americans. We want to be a place for leaders, for challengers.” The Obama-Pelosi-Reid agenda, he adds, is “inconsistent with where the American people want to be moving, from cap-and-trade legislation to replacing the private health-care system with a government-run program.”