Nevertheless, County Commissioner Eli Henderson’s move to the Republican Party earlier this week is merely another example of the label-switching taking place among a smattering of those who hold this area’s elected offices.
In recent months, a group of Calhoun County’s Democratic officials has openly embraced the GOP: Circuit Clerk Ted Hooks, Probate Judge Alice Martin, License Commissioner Barry Robertson, Calhoun County School Board member Mike Almaroad, and Henderson’s wife, Board of Registrars member Carolyn Henderson. State Rep. Steve Hurst of Munford, another former Democrat, has also recently moved to the Republican Party.
Given the events of last fall, when Republicans made sweeping gains in the November elections, it’s not surprising that some Democrats are switching parties in a state that’s increasingly leaning toward the GOP. That it may boost their re-election chances is a premise that can’t be overlooked.
’Nuff said, right?
None of those names, however, carry as much street-level star power as Henderson, one of the county’s most well-known politicians and, until Monday night’s meeting of the Calhoun County Republican Party, a longtime Democrat. There’s no doubt that his move raised a few eyebrows across this county.
Henderson told The Star that he switched to the GOP because his views are now closer to those of the Republican Party. However, considering the recent examples of the GOP’s differing elements — Tea Party advocates on one side, more traditional (and pragmatic) Republicans on the other — we wonder which group the county’s newest prominent Republican would align himself with.
In this case, our advice is not to make Henderson’s switch a bigger issue than it is. However, we can understand why some are wondering if any of the county’s other prominent Democrats — such as Sheriff Larry Amerson or County Commissioner Rudy Abbott — might follow Henderson’s lead.
What should remain the main topic is the value of two-party politics — on any level. The ebb-and-flow of political winds brings constant change to both parties; Congress is the perfect example, particularly the U.S. House with its two-year cycle. Bodies once red can turn blue, and vice versa. Politicians can switch sides; U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Tuscaloosa, did just that. Plus, if the Alabama Legislature can become a Republican haven, anything is possible.
Calhoun County politics needs reasonable minds in both parties. It needs honest leadership and vigorous political debates that inspire voters who may wield differing views. Those attributes are good for all.