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Louisiana congressman switches allegiance to GOP

BATON ROUGE, La. – Rep. Rodney Alexander switched his party affiliation to Republican on Friday – making the surprise flip in the last minute of registration for the Nov. 2 ballot, virtually assuring the seat for the GOP.

Alexander, who ran as a Democrat to win his first congressional term but voted along conservative lines, was a Democrat on Wednesday when he registered at the start of qualifying. He said, “I’m not ashamed to be a Democrat, but I vote what I think the people of the 5th District want me to represent.”

Alexander said Friday he had been struggling with his conservative votes for two years – backing the Bush tax cuts as well as the war in Iraq – and noted they had brought him criticism from Democrats.

“I just decided it would be best for me to switch parties, that I would be more effective in the 5th District in the state of Louisiana as a Republican,” he said.

Democrats reacted angrily.

“Rodney Alexander has betrayed voters in Louisiana and leaders like (Senators) John Breaux and Mary Landrieu, who have helped him. We have no use for turncoats like Rodney Alexander in the new Democratic majority,” said Kori Bernards, spokeswoman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Alexander’s decision leaves House Republicans with 229 seats to 205 for the Democrats with one Democratic-leaning independent.


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U.S. Gulf Coast prepares as Alberto brings wind, rain north

UPDATED: 9:03 p.m.

Florida and Mississippi launched emergency preparations Saturday ahead of the arrival of Subtropical Storm Alberto, a slow-moving system expected to cause wet misery across the eastern U.S. Gulf Coast over the holiday weekend.