Alabama State Rep. Richard Laird announced yesterday that he's no longer a Democrat (assuming he ever really was). That's no surprise: the Chambers County Democratic Party asked him to resign from the party in 2012 after he allied with Senator Gerald Dial & Rep. DuWayne Bridges to set up a legislative delegation slush fund:
"The Democratic Committee voted to condemn this action as a gross dereliction of their legislative duty," Walton said. "It was felt that a recent newspaper editorial depicting Sen. Gerald Dial (R-Lineville), Rep. DuWayne Bridges (R-Valley) and Rep. Richard Laird (D-Roanoke) as the 'Three Little Pigs' was entirely correct," she said. "The Democratic Committee was especially embarrassed and humiliated by the action of Rep. Laird, who ran as a Democrat," she continued. "The general consensus of opinion was that Laird should do the only decent thing and consider resigning from the party. "
He's finally done that, but has officially become an "independent." Guess his local GOP didn't want him either.
When Governor Bentley vetoed the Dial/Laird slush fund bill, the Governor's office was pretty critical: "Sen. Dial's bill was basically creating a slush fund for campaigns. There was enough (for a veto) right there."
Laird's reasons for his party switch? "blah, blah, blah... Obama... blah, blah.... gays!...blah, blah, blah... liberals!"
He'll fit right in with the no-nothing wing of the Alabama GOP - which is to say, the majority. Laird displayed his utter contempt for his district and the wishes of those he purported to represent during last year's battle over local control of funds:
- In an end run around local leaders and citizens of Randolph County who had organized to testify against SB486, Laird shut down the public hearing.
- Laird didn't bother to attend a local public hearing about the bill either. Neither did Gerald Dial, but while Dial explained that he was "too busy" to meet with constituents, Laird's explanation was that he "didn't know about it," which was an assertion that local leaders vigorously rebutted.
- After Governor Bentley vetoed the bill & the Legislature overrode it, Laird gave us a lot of insight into how stuff really works in Montgomery:
He said he hopes the three original bills would go into law but this is new territory and he has not looked into the way a vetoed bill becomes law.
Rep. Laird, however, said, "It is local legislation. It is unheard for a governor to veto local legislation. All local legislation passes by a low vote. Legislators who need votes on other issues do not want to vote on local legislation. Nobody voted against it," he said.
Here's what the local coalition opposed to the Dial/Laird Slush Fund had to say at the time:
The Randolph County Bipartisan Coalition in Opposition to the Dial-Laird Legislation is disappointed that Sen. Gerald Dial, Rep. Richard Laird and Rep. DuWayne Bridges were willing to use any deceptive tactics necessary in order to override Gov. Bentley's vetoes of the tobacco tax bills for Randolph and Chambers counties. The Coalition is in the process of evaluating its next actions and wants to emphasize to all citizens that the fight against this tyranny is not over. Citizens should also remember that Laird's even worse HB-785 is still pending before the Senate and everyone should continue contacting Senators to vote against it.
Yep. This is Laird's recent history in the Legislature as a so-called Democrat. He's so disliked by both parties in his home district that he couldn't really "switch" parties. He's "officially" an Independent and politically homeless.
While the GOP is giving him temporary shelter in their caucus, Laird is fooling himself if he expects any better treatment from Republicans than they gave Howard Hawk, Tom Butler, and many other party switchers.