Missouri House Republicans have gained one more seat in the state legislature today, with the switching of parties by a Democrat in her last term. Representative Linda Black of Desloge has switched to the Republican party.
Her decision gives Republicans 118 members in the state House; the second largest GOP majority in the Missouri House, by percentage, in history.
Black ran unopposed as a Democrat in yesterday’s election and begins her fourth term representing part of St. Francois County.
In a statement Black says she has, “contemplated this move for some time.”
“It’s a decision I’ve wrestled with, because I’ve been a Democrat my whole life. Increasingly, though, I find it difficult to square my social and moral beliefs and, I believe, the social and moral values of voters in my district, with some of the views of the Democratic Party,” writes Black.
Speaking to reporters, Black says, “I don’t want to spend my last term, my last two years, in the minority party who we differ on too many fundamental beliefs. I feel that I would be spending time against my party and speaking against their beliefs, and I would rather join in working together with the Republican side of the aisle and working ahead, moving my district forward and being more effective in the majority.”
“Linda Black is someone that our caucus has gotten to know very well over the past six years,” says House Speaker-elect John Diehl, Junior. “I think Linda’s been doing a lot of soul searching over the past couple of weeks and months and has made a decision and we’re proud to welcome her to our caucus and make her a part of our team.”
House Minority Leader Jake Hummel of St. Louis called the switch a “betrayal of her constituents.”
“The timing of her announcement makes it clear she had intended to do this all along,” writes Hummel in a statement from the House Democratic Caucus. “If Representative Black had wanted to become a Republican she should have run on the Republican ticket instead of pulling a deceptive bait-and-switch on St. Francois County voters.”
Black has voted with Republicans on several key issues in her three terms to date, particularly on legislation dealing with abortion. In the regular session in the spring she voted for legislation that tripled Missouri’s waiting period for a woman wanting to have an abortion from 24-hours to 72-hours, and in September’s veto session she voted with Republicans to overturn Governor Jay Nixon’s veto of that bill.
Black says there are “too many issues” on which she no longer agrees with the Democratic party.
“I need to be in company with those fellow representatives who share in the sanctity and preservation of human life, who also share in the sanctity of marriage, and also who are willing to step up and protect our Second Amendment rights,” she tells reporters.
Her statement says, “I want to emphasize that I’m not changing. I will continue to fight for the working-class people who put me in office. I will continue to focus on what’s best for the blue-collar workers in the mining community I was raised in, and when it’s necessary to stand on my own against the majority party I will do so.”
“My core beliefs have not and will not change,” she writes.