Alabama state Representative Daniel Boman says he feels a sense of relief after leaving the Republican Party. The Legislature's newest Democrat represents Tuscaloosa, Fayette, and Lamar Counties. Boman tells WBHM's Dan Carsen that after Wednesday's vote to revamp the state's teacher tenure system, he could no longer remain a Republican. A link to the audio and a transcript of the interview are below.
[BOMAN:] The teacher tenure bill was kind of a final straw, I guess. And I started seeing what was really going on, and I'm a big believer in public education. My district is made up of blue-collar workers, some Republican, some Democrats. And the votes that were coming up were not helping my district. I was having to vote against party lines to protect my district. Well, you know, when you vote against your party, that creates tension. And I just really got tired of having to choose between my people and my party. And I felt - and I saw what was coming with the rest of the bills that were directed towards teachers, and I just said, 'you know what? This is it.' I know what I stand for. My values as a representative have not changed. I'm still the same conservative person I was when the people elected me in November. But, I am not going to be put in a position where I feel like I have to make a choice between my party and my people. I'm going to represent my people with a free voice, with no strings attached. And I've said this: if it comes to the point - which I don't think it will - if the Democratic Party were to behave in the same manner as the Republican Party, you know, I may go independent.
[CARSEN] So in other words, it wasn't just the new tenure bill, but it was sort of a big-picture thing?
[BOMAN] It was way more than a tenure bill. The poor, and mainly the blue-collar workers, the wage-earners - the people who get an hourly wage - I feel like their voice is being lost in Montgomery. And my district is made up of public education. I have no private schools. And the teachers really felt like they were being attacked. And I'm gonna stand up for the middle class and the poor every single time.
[CARSEN] What does your party-switch mean for you in terms of your ... the day-to-day business of lawmaking?
[BOMAN] I mean, what it means is now that I can cast my votes freely, and not have to worry about explaining myself to my party. I mean, I haven't changed.
[CARSEN] I'm assuming some people are displeased with your change in affiliation. Have you heard from them?
[BOMAN] I have. I've heard ... I've heard both sides, and overwhelmingly, I'm given a lot of support.
[CARSEN] Do you think your change in party - your move - is part of a larger trend?
[BOMAN] Yes. I did not realize it until the last two days. But, once I stepped back, and rode home from Montgomery yesterday after the press conference, people started calling. I mean, I got a call from a lady in Anchorage, Alaska. You know, people from New Jersey have called, people from Chicago have called. All sorts of people from Florida have called. I did this because I felt it was right. I felt this was the best way to represent my people, and I put my people, in my district, before my party. And I think people across this nation are starting to say 'hey - just as the Democrats once were, were overreaching, I think the Republican Party is overreaching.' I think they are getting into things that they just don't need to be in. So yes, I think this a nationwide thing.
[CARSEN] Well Mr. Boman, thank you so much for your time.
[BOMAN] Thank you so much.