Meridian Star

Local News

February 25, 2009

State Rep. Nicholson switches parties

State Rep. Billy Nicholson of Little Rock has changed parties and is now a Republican rather than a Democrat, the Mississippi Republican Party announced Wednesday.

Nicholson, 61, has served in the Mississippi State House of Representatives since 2000. With Nicholson's switch, there are now 49 Republicans and 73 Democrats in the House.

Nicholson said he changed parties both because he feels the Republican Party is a better match for him philosophically and because the Democratic Party threatened to deny his certification in future elections after his endorsement of a national Republican candidate.

Though the Democratic Party did certify him eventually, he said the experience was one of the main factors in his decision to switch. He also said his disapproval of the federal stimulus bill played a role. He added that he waited to complete his retirement from his workplace before making the switch.

“Truth be told, this was not a difficult decision,” Nicholson said in a written statement. “I have no choice but to relinquish my ties with the Democrats and join the Republican Party. It has never been clearer that hope for Mississippi stays alive with the leadership and ideals of the Republicans.”

State Rep. Greg Snowden (R-Meridian), who also joined the House in 2000 and said he is good friends with Nicholson, said the switch was not unexpected. "I always joked, or at least I meant it as a joke, that he's a better Republican than I am... He's always voted in a very conservative way and represents a conservative part of Newton County."

State House District 78, which Nicholson serves, covers parts of Neshoba, Newton, and Scott Counties.

Snowden said he is happy to see House Republicans increase in number. "There are more Republicans now than ever in the House since I've been there," he said.

Snowden also remarked that Nicholson's switch will mark the first time that black Democrats have outnumbered white Democrats in the House. Currently, he said, there are 37 black Democrats and 36 white Democrats in the House. All of the House Republicans are white.

Mississippi Republican Party Chairman Brad White was pleased to receive the news of Nicholson’s switch. “I am proud to welcome Rep. Nicholson to the Republican Party,” White said in a written statement. “I have said many times that conservatives don’t have a home in the Democratic Party, but Billy, and those like him, certainly has a home with the GOP.”

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