FORT PAYNE, Ala.(WHNT)-Two top officials in DeKalb County are the latest defections from the Alabama Democratic Party.
District Attorney Mike O'Dell and Circuit Judge Jeremy Taylor both announced Monday that they were switching parties and becoming Republicans. Both men said an increasing number of far left stances taken by the national Democratic Party sparked the switch-over, marking the latest example of a growing disconnect between the party's national positions and its local affiliates in Alabama.
More than 60 Democratic officeholders in Alabama have switched over to the GOP since 2010. WHNT News 19 Political Analyst Dr. Jess Brown said the latest defections symbolize just how complete the Democratic collapse in Alabama has been, including in former strongholds like the Sand Mountain region.
"The Democratic Party is basically having a going out of business sale," said Brown. "I have never seen the Democratic Party in my lifetime in such a state of disarray...From the Tennessee Valley region down to the Gulf, I just don't see the Democratic Party fielding candidates with a message really effective enough to threaten any Republicans...Many voters in the state will start to view the Democratic Party as 50 years ago many voters viewed the Republican Party. Largely irrelevant."
Judge Taylor said national Democratic platforms like higher taxes, higher government spending and more gun control forced him to reevaluate his political affiliation.
"Signing on as a Democrat now necessarily entails the national party's stance on most if not all issues," said Taylor. "That's just not something I can do anymore."
District Attorney O'Dell was not available for comment, but did issue a written statement through his office.
"I have not changed, but the national Democratic Party certainly has," the statement read. "It is no longer the Democrat Party of my father or grandfather. It has changed dramatically on important social, moral and fiscal issues, becoming far too liberal for my conscience. But my conflict is with the national party, not the local folks who call themselves Democrats."
Alabama Republican Party leaders said they welcomed both officials due to their conservative backgrounds and beliefs. They are both expected to run in the GOP primaries next year.