Yesterday State Senator Nolan Mettetal switched parties from the Democratic to the Republican Party. He stated he was a conservative and the Democratic Party no longer welcomed conservatives. He said, "I'm the same person with the same values that I've always had, but I've found a new home."
Okay, fine. Since I'm nominally a Republican (Actually, I'm an Old Right conservative.), I like to see people switch from the Democratic to the GOP. Notice how he switched less than a month into the Legislative session and just three months after the election. How convenient. He used the Democratic Party to win the primary and to be elected as a Democrat. He was first elected as a Democrat back in 1995. He aligned himself with the Democrats in the State Senate, always identifying with that party. Now he's a Republican.
Here's my question: Why didn't he run as a Republican last year? That way, he could have stated how the Democratic Party betrayed conservatism and he was now running as a Republican. The voters could evaluate his decision to switch. Two State Senators last year did switch parties (from Democratic to Republican) and were thrown out by the voters.
Chances are very good Mettetal would have been thrown out by a strong Democrat. The area he represents is strong Democratic territory. But now he has four years to repair his political fences and get reelected (should he decide to run for reelection). The Democratic Party activists who worked for him feel betrayed. Can you blame them?
I like what Phil Gramm, the former U.S. Senator from Texas, did. He was reelected as a Democrat as a Congressman from Texas in 1982. He became disgusted with the Democratic Party and resigned his seat, saying he would swith parties and run as a Republican in a special election. He easily won and later ran for--and was elected--to the U.S. Senate.
However, Mississippi has no party affiliation in special elections. This is why I'm in favor of party registration. There should also be a provision in the party registration bill if an officeholder switches parties, his seat automatically becomes vacant and he must run in a special election for that seat under his new party label.
What Senator Mettatal should do is resign his seat and run in a special election under his new party label (even though it wouldn't be on the ballot). Let the voters decide if they agree on his party switch.