State Rep. Ritter switches to GOP

Marilyn Tennissen Dec. 15, 2010, 7:13am

State Rep. Alan Ritter of Nederland announces Dec. 14 that he is switching his party affiliation from the Democratic Party to the GOP.

AUSTIN - State Rep. Alan Ritter of District 21 announced Tuesday that he is changing his party affiliation from Democrat to Republican in order to better "reflect the views" of the people in his district.

The Nederland businessman has represented District 21, a district within the boundaries of Jefferson County, as a Democrat since 1999. During that time, Ritter said, he has watched the district turn more Republican.

"I believe this will allow me to more accurately and effectively represent my constituents while addressing the challenges facing our state," Ritter said.

Ritter made his announcement Dec. 14 at the state Republican Party headquarters in Austin, surrounded by other Texas Republican leaders including Gov. Rick Perry, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and House Speaker Joe Strauss. He was also joined by another Democratic representative making a switch to the GOP, Rep. Aaron Pena of Edinburgh.

The switch of the two representatives now gives Republicans a supermajority in the state House for the upcoming legislative session.

Democratic leaders on the state and local levels were not happy with the men's decision to change parties.

"Given that Rep. Ritter was just elected as a Democrat, an immediate party switch would indicate that his is not a principled decision. He should show the voters enough respect to resign and seek election as a Republican," Texas Democratic Party Chairman Boyd Richie said.

Jefferson County Democratic Chairman Gilbert Adams was also angry about Ritter's switch.

"Even for republicans - how could you trust somebody that would flip on you like that?" said Beaumont plaintiffs attorney Adams in an interview with KBTV-12 News.

"Obviously there's been some offers made to him to get him to switch so that republicans can get a super majority in the Texas House" said Adams.

Adams said Rep. Ritter should step down and re-run for office as a republican candidate. Ritter said he will not resign.

Beaumont attorney Michael Truncale, a member of the Texas Republican Party executive committee, said Ritter has long had a conservative voting record in the House.

"For a number of years I've ask him to join us because in his voting and thinking - it reflected our philosophical views" said Truncale.

Truncale also said he sees no reason for Ritter to resign and re-run.

"There's no reason to poll the people of Southeast Texas again - he's entitled to change parties as others have and he's exercised his right to do that" said Truncale.

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