Rep. Charles Newton, D-Greenville, said in a statement Friday he would run for re-election as a Republican after serving in the House of Representatives as a Democrat for more than two decades.
Newton, first elected in 1989, said he made the decision “with the interests of his constituents in mind.”
“Regardless of the party affiliation by my name, I promise to continue providing the same commonsense approach to the issues, the same strong respect for taxpayer dollars, and the same high ethical standards that I have given our area since first elected to the Legislature,” the statement said.
Newton is president of the Newton Oil Company, and has often been subject of rumors as to a possible party switch. His district, which currently includes Butler, Crenshaw and Conecuh counties, will include a portion of Montgomery County under redistricting maps that take effect for the 2014 election cycle.
House Minority Leader Craig Ford, D-Gadsden, released a statement Friday that he was “sad but not surprised” that Newton had moved to the other side of the aisle.
“He has always voted with the Republicans, even when that meant voting against public education and voting against his constituents back home,” the statement said. ”But his district is a Democratic district, and we are confident that we will keep this seat.”
Newton is the sixth Democrat to switch parties in the House in the current quadrennium. Alana Boothe of Troy; Mike Millican of Hamilton; Lesley Vance of Phenix City and Steve Hurst of Munford were re-elected as Democrats in 2010 but switched parties a few weeks after the election. Rep. Alan Harper of Tuscaloosa joined the Republicans shortly before the start of the 2012 Regular Session.
Richard Laird, a representative from Roanoke, left the Democrats last year to become an independent. Laird will not seek re-election this year. Rep. Daniel Boman of Sulligent is the only Republican who has switched to the Democrats in the last four years.
– posted by Brian Lyman