State Rep. Debbie Stafford, a longtime Republican known for her passionate arguments on behalf of abused animals and foster kids, ditched her party Thursday to join majority Democrats.
The Aurora lawmaker's surprise move - announced as she stood with a dozen cheering Democrats - was the first time in 20 years that a state lawmaker switched parties.
Republican reaction ranged from flippant to seething, as the Democrats' House majority climbed to 40-25 and Republicans were left with just five female lawmakers in the state Capitol.
"I am not leaving the Republican Party as much as the Republican Party left me," Stafford said. "I decided it was time to place myself, and my self-respect, ... with the Democratic Party."
DKos uses the defection as a jumping off point to note just how many Republicans have recently become converts to our cause. It's a signal of the way politics is changing, he said, and proves that our party is on the way up, while the GOP brand is on the decline.
Perhaps. But reading the Post story, a vague flash of memory went off in my head. "Debbie Stafford," I thought, "that sounds really familiar. But why would I have heard of a random Colorado State Representative?"
Oh yeah. This is why:
But Rep. Debbie Stafford, R-Aurora, said at the caucus that she was upset that the bill exempted children under 18.
"We're helping create the next generation of terrorists," she said.
The bill Rep. Stafford was referring to was one that sought to deprive illegal immigrants of all non-critical governmental services. Stafford was pissed that we weren't sufficiently tough on nine-year olds, and had the gall to say that treating them like human beings was akin to a terrorist training camp.
I understand that politics is a numbers game and it's good to have more folks on our team. But let's not forget who this person is, just because she's on our side now. It's not that she's "tough on illegal immigration" -- I recognize my party is split on this. But Stafford's "we're helping create the next generation of terrorists" comment was one of the paradigmatic displays of the extremist anti-immigration hysteria that has gripped too many people in this country. It was ugly, it was hateful, and it displayed a near inhuman attitude towards children.
As much as I'm pleased to see many Republicans coming to their senses and recognizing that their movement has left them, I cannot welcome folks like Stafford to my party.