County official switches political parties
by David Lazenby
Dec 25, 2010 | 3269 views | 0 0 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
At a recent meeting of the Walker County Republican Party, a county official who was elected to the Walker County School Board as a Democrat announced he had a change of heart that led him to switch his allegiance to the Grand Ole Party.

District 3 school board member Mike Raines said it was his “conservative values” that led him to join the GOP.

“I come from a family with conservative values,” Raines said. “I learned early the value of hard work and integrity.”

Raines’ defection is not unusual. During a year in which Democrats suffering severe election day losses, at least a dozen Democrat lawmaker across the country have defected from the party.

In Alabama alone, State House Reps. Alan Boothe, Steve Hurst, Mike Millican and Lesley Vance switched to the Republican Party in 2010. Also making the switch was Jane C. Smith, an Alabama Circuit Clerk from Madison County.

Raines said his decision was not due to the declining popularity of his former party. However, he did not deny that the developments in Washington, D.C., in recent years played a part in his decision.

“I know this statement is becoming cliché, but I don’t feel I am leaving the Democratic Party,” Raines said. “I actually feel like the Democratic Party left me when it comes to the national scene.”

Raines added, “It is a difficult decision to leave the local party, but my integrity will not allow me to stand with this message that is being presented by the national party. It is hard to go in that voting booth during state and national elections as a local Democratic candidate and feel your values actually align more with the other party.

Linda Ensor, the chairman of the Walker County Republicans, said she was happy to have Raines on board.

“We’re real pleased to have him as a member of the Republican Party,” Ensor said. “We feel he will be an asset to the party.”

Ensor added, “I believe Mike Raines represents the people well in District 3 and I look forward to working with him.”

District 3 includes Bankhead Middle, Cordova Elementary, Cordova High, Oakman Elementary, Oakman High, Parrish Elementary, Parrish High and Valley schools.

Ensor added more defections from the Democratic Party may be forthcoming.

“We’re working with other elected officials who are interested in coming to the Republican Party,” Ensor said.