For Immediate Release – January 24, 2011
Contact: John Kruntorad 903/272-4073; State Rep. Erwin Cain 903/488-3337

PARIS, TX – In what is believed to be one of the largest number of officeholders to change party affiliation in Texas, Lamar County GOP Chairman John Kruntorad and State Representative Erwin Cain announced today that 9 local elected Democrats have joined the Republican Party. This announcement follows unprecedented election gains by the GOP in 2008 and 2010 as Northeast Texans increasingly identify with the conservative platform of the Republican Party.

Those joining the Republican Party include District Attorney Gary Young; Pct. 1 County Commissioner Lawrence Mallone; Pct. 1 Justice of the Peace (JP) Don Denison; Pct. 3 JP Tim Risinger; Pct. 4 JP Ken Ruthart; Pct. 5, Place 1 JP Cindy Ruthart; Pct. 1 Constable Madaline Chance; Pct. 3 Constable Larry Cope; and Pct. 5 Constable Gene Hobbs.

As recently as November 2008 – slightly more than 2 years ago – there were no elected Republicans from Lamar County. In 2008, the barrier was broken with the election of Republican District Judge Eric Clifford, County Commissioner Kevin Jenkins, and Constable Rick Easterwood. In November, Republicans won two key races with the election of Bill Harris as County Court at Law Judge and Keith Mitchell as County Commissioner. With today’s announcement, the GOP now has a majority of county officials.

County Chairman Kruntorad stated, “We are so proud of these public officials who have shown the courage of their convictions in joining the Republican Party. Their willingness to publicly affirm the conservative values of the vast majority of their constituencies reflects credit upon themselves and the residents of Lamar County. For too long Northeast Texans have espoused conservative ideals and principles but have felt the need to run on the Democrat election ticket. Those days have passed. We are privileged to welcome this fine group into the Republican Party.”

State Rep. Erwin Cain said, “Last summer, I met with many of these public servants and was honored to outline the Republican Party principles of lower taxes, limited government, personal responsibility, and a respect for our traditional values. I simply encouraged them to compare those principles with their own and let their conscience be their guide. I am delighted to see these elected officials align themselves with the party of their principles.”

Lamar County District Attorney Gary Young stated, “I have always considered myself to be a conservative in all aspects, including socially and fiscally. Others that know me would agree and my record as the Lamar County Attorney and the District Attorney bears this out. It is my desire to continue to serve the citizens of Lamar County and I believe that my conservative core beliefs are best represented by the Republican Party.”

In making the change, Justice of the Peace Ken Ruthart stated, “I did not leave the Democratic Party – the Democratic Party left me.” Justice of the Peace Tim Risinger announced, “My beliefs have always been conservative. I’m running as a Republican to best reflect my core conservative values and my belief in the Republican platform.”

Gov. Rick Perry applauded the Lamar County officials, saying “Today’s announcement reflects a growing tide of elected officials in Texas who recognize the values and principles of the Republican Party represent a majority of the Texans they represent. I want to welcome these fine public officials from Lamar County to the Republican Party and look forward to working with them during this historic time in our state.”

Texas State Republican Party Chairman Steve Munisteri commented, “It was clear on November 2nd that the voters of Texas sent a resounding message, declaring that the Republican Party principles of free enterprise, limited government, and individual liberty are the best way to ensure Texas’ future. Since the election, we’ve had many Democratic officeholders come to the same conclusion. Today, this historic switch of a record number of officeholders continues the momentum. As Chairman of the Republican Party of Texas, I want to warmly welcome them to our ranks.”