Party activists are furious. This guy owes an explanation to his constituents and to the GOP.
I am LIVID.
Here's my e-mail to his office, since I could not get through on the phone:
Rep. Decker (or the anonymous lackey reading this):Rep. Decker (or the anonymous lackey reading this):
I read with utter disgust the fact that you jumped ship and switched to the Democratic party today. These sorts of shenanigans maybe be fine for Yankee Republicans-in-name-only like Jim Jeffords, but I thought North Carolinians were above it.
Were you, or were you not elected as a REPUBLICAN? That's what I thought. You should be deeply ashamed.
Have a blast wallowing in the Cesspool Party with all of the baby-killers, sodomites, socialists and race-baiters and election-stealers!
(my real name)
_______ , NC
Forsyth legislator switches parties
By MARK BINKER, Staff Writer
News & Record
Republican state Rep. Mike Decker further confused an already unsettled General Assembly Friday by announcing he had switched to the Democratic Party, creating an even split in the state House and angering his Republican colleagues.
The move by the veteran Forsyth County legislator negates a two-vote Republican majority won during the past fall's elections and complicates an already twisted race over who will lead the state House when it convenes Wednesday.
Decker's switch is considered perplexing given his staunchly conservative voting record, particularly on social issues such as public funding for abortion.
"Decker was similar to the Jesse Helms of the House. You just can't figure this," said Rep. John Blust, a Republican who represents Guilford County. "He could just be turning over all the machinery of the House to the people who are 180 degrees opposed to what he claims to believe in."
Decker did not return phone or e-mail messages sent to his legislative office Friday. But by midafternoon, his party affiliation had been changed on the legislature's Web site.
A phone call to his home was answered by a man who said that Decker was "not here right now, thank you" and hung up without offering to take a message. Further calls went unanswered.
Blust and other Republicans quickly drew comparisons between Decker and Jim Jeffords, the Vermont U.S. senator who switched his party affiliation in 2001 from Republican to Independent, giving Democrats brief control of the Senate.
"This is just double-dealing back stabbing," said a calm but frustrated Blust. Blust said that he would introduce a measure to give North Carolina voters the right to recall legislators, something he said could prevent future party-jumping.
"This is as slimy and perfidious of a maneuver as I've seen in politics," Blust said.
Decker's move creates a 60-60 tie in the state House, yielding clear control to neither party and further confusing the contest for Speaker and other leadership positions. The legislators in those posts generally set the lower chamber's agenda and wield a great deal of power over the budget and other legislation.
During a November meeting of the Republican caucus, Decker sought the nomination for Speaker pro tem, the chamber's No. 2 position. But Republicans backed Rep. Joanne Bowie, a Guilford County Republican. That vote did not secure her election but did give her an edge over Decker and most other contenders.
If Bowie loses to a Democrat, it will not only be a blow to Republicans but also to the Guilford delegation, which has long been criticized for its limited ability to bring home state funding for roads and other projects.
"This is just a little bizarre," Bowie said Friday. "It's unfortunate for the Piedmont area."
Bowie and other Republicans reached Friday speculated that Decker had switched parties on a promise from Democratic leaders to back his bid for Speaker pro tem, another leadership post or a job in Democratic Gov. Mike Easley's administration.
"Does all this mean that (previous House speaker) Jim Black or Mike Easley have made some type of promise to Decker?" North Carolina Republican Party Chairman Bill Cobey suggested in a written statement. "Could that promise involve the Speaker pro tem position, which pays 50 percent more than a rank-and-file member receives?"
A spokesman for Black, speaker for the last two terms, said that neither Black nor other Democratic leaders had promised Decker anything for his switch.
The Republicans "can speculate all they want to," said Black spokesman Danny Lineberry.
In an e-mail message, Black said, "I deeply appreciate Michael Decker's decision to support me for Speaker of the House. ... I am proud to welcome Michael Decker to the N.C. Democratic Party."
Backing from either party cannot ensure election to any leadership post. Factions in both the Democratic and Republican caucuses are quarreling over their parties' nominees, creating a possible opening for a compromise candidate.
An 18-year veteran of the House, Decker had been a registered Democrat before seeking elected office.
Triad legislators have a history of unexpected political maneuvers.
In 1997, Rep. Steve Wood, a Guilford County Republican, infuriated fellow Republicans by nominating himself for Speaker pro tem; he won the post with Democratic support. In 1999, he backed Black for Speaker.
Wood paid a political price for his moves during the 2000 elections; Republicans backed Blust in a primary race against Wood. Blust won, prompting Wood to jump to the Reform Party and run again Blust in the general election. Blust won that contest as well.
Wood switched back to the GOP in 2002 after his and Blust's district were split. Voters returned him to the legislature for the upcoming term. Wood did not return calls to his home or Raleigh office seeking comment on Decker's move.
Contact Mark Binker at 373-7023 or firstname.lastname@example.org
See details of all the day's news in tomorrow's News & Record
Subscribe today | Electronic archives