Under the Dome

An NC House Democrat switches to the GOP

Rep. William Brisson reads over some material during a House Appropriations Committee meeting in Raleigh on July 29, 2015.
Rep. William Brisson reads over some material during a House Appropriations Committee meeting in Raleigh on July 29, 2015. cseward@newsobserver.com

Democratic Rep. Bill Brisson announced Wednesday he will change his party registration and run for a seventh term as a Republican.

Democrats now hold just 45 seats in the 120-member House.

Brisson, 71, represents parts of Bladen, Sampson, and Johnston counties. He has been a Republican ally for years. At times during his career, Brisson provided Republicans with crucial votes on important bills. For example, he and four other Democrats helped Republicans override former Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue’s budget vetoes in 2011.

Brisson could not be reached for comment Wednesday morning, but he told WECT-TV he has thought about switching for years.

“I’ve always been a conservative Democrat,” he told the station. “All of my district is rural, and a lot of my constituents are. I’ve been getting a lot of pressure from my constituents to in the past few years to change. I don’t have a lot in common with the Democratic Party right now because they have become so liberal.”

After the announcement, politicians and commentators posted their reactions on Twitter. N.C. House Republicans welcomed him.

State Republican Party Chairman Robin Hayes said in a statement that Brisson’s decision to join the GOP will help Brisson and his district.

"Representative Brisson has been a hard-working and conservative voice in our state legislature for quite some time now,” Hayes said. “We are elated with his decision to switch his registration to a political party that will better serve himself and his constituents. I look forward to working with him to spread Republican values and make the 22nd district the best it can be."

Rep. Darren Jackson of Wake County, the House minority leader, called Brisson a “good man whose voting record has long been more appropriate for a member of the Republican caucus than ours.”

State Democratic Party Chairman Wayne Goodwin sent out a statement highlighting Brisson’s long-standing alliance with Republicans.

“Representative Brisson is an honest public servant, but one who rarely caucuses with Democrats and votes more than nine out of ten times with the Republican majority,” he said in a statement. “Our party remains committed to fighting for every seat possible in order to retake the majority by 2020.”

Lynn Bonner: 919-829-4821, @Lynn_Bonner