Freshman Democratic House member Parker Griffith of Alabama is switching to the Republican Party, his office said Tuesday, another blow to Democrats facing a potentially tough midterm election.
Griffith, 67, was narrowly elected last year from a region of northern Alabama that includes Huntsville and Decatur. President Barack Obama lost the district badly to Republican John McCain.
Griffith, a radiation oncologist, had accumulated one of the most conservative voting records of any House Democrat. He was one of seven Democrats to oppose Obama's economic stimulus measure early this year.
Griffith was one of 39 House Democrats who voted against a major health care bill that narrowly passed. He also voted against an anti-global warming bill pushed strongly by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
Democrats will still control the House by a substantial margin through 2010.
Several veteran House moderates have announced their retirements next year, giving Republicans hopes of picking up a significant number of seats in the November elections.