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Dems not suprised by Griffith's switch

From NBC's Domenico Montanaro
For some more context on Parker Griffith's party switch, he was one of four Democrats to oppose the stimulus, cap and trade, and health-care reform. The other three: Walt Minnick (ID), Bobby Bright (AL) and Gene Taylor (MS). All four are/were considered major targets for the GOP in 2010. Griffith also voted against the Wall St. reform legislation and the Lilly Ledbetter Act

So considering Griffith's votes, when measuring his switch versus Arlen Specter's, Specter's was much more significant.

Specter, one, moved Democrats closer to the 60-vote supermajority, and, two, he went from being an uncertain vote for either party to being a solidly Democratic one. Not much will likely change, on the other hand, with regard to major votes with Griffith's switch.

Also, keep in mind that Griffith, over the summer, said he would vote for the Republican challenger, whomever that may be, against Nancy Pelosi in her re-election bid for House Speaker -- provided Democrats maintain their majority -- in the next Congress.

Democrats say they aren't surprised by Griffith's switch, particularly given that opposition to Pelosi.

"He went off the reservation a long time ago," a Democratic aide tells First Read, adding, "This just confirms what we already knew for a long time. This is not based on his voting record. It's the way in which he's conducted himself."

The aide also said that Griffith hadn't told leadership or his staff before the news broke.

"He apparently gave it to Politico before he told his own staff," the aide said.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the political arm of House Democrats, spent more than $1.2 million on Griffith's run in 2008, for his first term in office.

And despite his voting against major Democratic initiatives, the Democratic aide said he will likely have to face a tough GOP primary because of other votes in which he voted in line with Democrats -- on TARP twice, the first omnibus, for children's health care (S-CHIP), and an education bill.

"When he's out there trying to sell himself to the conservative base, that's going to be tough," the aide said.

Still, it's not good P.R. for Democrats, it reduces their majority, and many will see this as an indication of the negative environment for Democrats -- particularly in the South this cycle.