The following is from the Sept. 20, 2007, edition of The Dallas Morning News. SMU Political Science Professor Matthew Wilson was a source for this story.
By GROMER JEFFERS Jr.
The Dallas Morning News
State Rep. Kirk England, R-Grand Prairie, has scheduled a news conference at 10 a.m. today to announce that he's switching to the Democratic Party.
"In December of 2005, when I filed to run for office, I made a promise to the hardworking families in our community to fight for our public schools, fight for affordable health care and to fight for them on pocketbook issues," Mr. England said in a prepared statement. "After one session in the House, I found that the Republican leadership in Austin had no tolerance for the values and priorities of the folks I represent. That is why... I will announce my intention to seek re-election to the Texas House as a Democrat." . . .
Mr. England becomes the first Republican lawmaker in recent memory to become a Democrat. And his departure illustrates the changing political face of urban Texas counties where demographic shifts are creating opportunities for Democrats.
And though Mr. England's defection only mildly dents the Republican majority in the Texas House – it's currently 81-69 GOP – it signals that the Democratic strategy of targeting swing districts with vulnerable Republican incumbents is working.
"In the south, all the shifts have been in the other direction, said Southern Methodist University political scientist Matthew Wilson. "Ten or 15 years ago, Democrats were switching to the Republican Party and now there's a move back to parity or beyond parity.
"We're not going to see in the near future Democratic dominance like Republican dominance in the last 10 years, but certainly Democrats are becoming a lot more competitive in urban Texas areas. These are the building blocks of statewide competitiveness down the road."
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