Two Coastal Empire Democrats Switch Parties - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

04/19/04

Two Coastal Empire Democrats Switch Parties

Bob Lane Bob Lane
Tommy Smith Tommy Smith

The Georgia General Assembly session ended weeks ago, but the politicking continues. Two Democratic icons in our region announced today they are switching parties. Representatives Tommy Smith of Alma in Bacon County and Bob Lane of Statesboro in Bulloch County made their announcements with Gov. Sonny Perdue standing beside them.

WTOC traveled to both cities today and spoke with these two men, who say it's one of the biggest moves in their careers. The governor hopes these two are the first of many more.

To see Bob Lane stand along side Sonny Perdue, it seemed more like April 1 than 19. The idea of the Democratic lawmaker switching parties after 20 years would have been an April Fool's joke a few years ago.

"The party seemed to keep leaving me a little bit, and like I said earlier, I don't my philosophy or my views have changed," said Lane.

The tone was much the same in Alma earlier when Tommy Smith announced his switch after 26 years in the legislature. "Everything the legislators do as we all know involves politics," he said. "But this decision goes a lot deeper than politics with me, it's what I feel is the right thing to do."

Amidst the campaign fanfare, Gov. Perdue says the two defectors reflect a shift among Georgia voters. "It's just another acknowledgement by these two members today in southeast Georgia that they're joining the party that reflects their views," he said. "Family, faith, freedom, and the Constitutional rights of our citizens to be in charge."

The governor says politics is all about being on the right team in Atlanta or Washington to help folks at home. Both Smith and Lane hope voters don't get confused by the change in uniform.

Reported by: Dal Cannady, dcannady@wtoc.com

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