Party switchers

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What goes up must come down. In national politics, what shifts right must reverse and head back left, or so it seems. For the past dozen years, all marquee politicians who switched parties headed right–deserting the Democratic Party for an enlarging GOP tent. Is the pendulum now swinging in the opposite direction?

More than a few local former Republicans and two party luminaries are running this year for important offices as Democrats. According to inthesetimes.com, "Former Kansas GOP chair Mark Parkinson has joined Democratic Governor Kathleen Sebelius as her choice for lieutenant governor on her re-election ticket. In Virginia, longtime Republican and Reagan-era Secretary of the Navy Jim Webb is challenging incumbent U.S. Senator George Allen, a voting-rights foe sometimes pegged as an '08 White House hopeful, in his hard-fought re-election bid."

The website also lists lesser luminaries such as Republican state Sen. Nancy Riley of Oklahoma, who became a Democrat this summer. Central South Carolina county prosecutor Barney Giese also switched left, as did a state legislator in Washington and many others. The politicians cite conservative extremism, intolerance by party higher-ups of any dissent, frustration with the rising deficit, the increasingly futile Iraq war, and a lack of focus on domestic security.