Circuit Clerk Ted Hooks announced during a county Republican Party meeting Monday that he plans to run for re-election in 2012 as a Republican. Hooks had been a Democrat since 1994 when he first ran for circuit clerk.
He joins the ranks of several local officials who have switched from Democrat to Republican in recent months. The Republican Party struck a major blow against Democrats in the November general election, taking control of the state Legislature for the first time since Reconstruction.
Local officials who have switched include Calhoun County Probate Judge Alice Martin, Calhoun County Commissioner of Licenses Barry Robertson and Calhoun Board of Registrars member Carolyn Henderson. Rep. Steve Hurst of Munford also switched soon after the general elections.
Of all the area’s officials and politicians, only nine Democrats remain, including Calhoun County Commissioners Pappy Dunn, Eli Henderson and Rudy Abbott, Sheriff Larry Amerson, Revenue Commissioner Karen Roper, Coroner Pat Brown, Circuit Judge Malcolm Street, Sen. Jerry Fielding and state Rep. Barbara Boyd.
Hooks said he had been thinking of changing parties for some time.
“It’s just been a long process of where my philosophy has been going,” Hooks said. “I’m just more in tune with conservatives.”
He added that he wanted to switch to circumvent any possible opposition when he runs for re-election next year. Since his first election, Hooks has run unopposed, he said.
“Next year, I would have anticipated a Republican to run what with all the changes going on in the state,” Hooks said.
Calhoun County Republican Party Chairman Gene Howard said he was glad to welcome Hooks into the party.
“We’ve looked at his beliefs and opinions and we find them to be entirely compatible with us,” Howard said. “This is a great opportunity for good government … for us to move government more to the right.”
Calhoun County Democratic Party Chairwoman Shelia Gilbert said she knew Hooks had been flirting with changing his party affiliation for a couple of months and was disappointed with his decision.
“Hooks has the right to do whatever he wants,” Gilbert said. “But it appears he, like other recent switchers in Calhoun County, demonstrates a willingness of career politicians to do whatever it takes to guarantee retention of his position at the public trough.”
Hooks said his change in party affiliation would not change how the circuit clerk’s office is operated.
“I can’t anticipate any changes since I don’t make decisions that are political,” Hooks said. “I don’t look at my office as being partisan. I think that is for the Legislature.”
Contact staff writer Patrick McCreless at 256-235-3561.