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Barnett switches to Republican Party

When Dist. 92 Rep. Dr. Jim Barnett qualifies for re-electionTuesday afternoon, he will do so as a Republican.

The former Democrat, first elected to the state House in 1991,said a lot of thought, prayer and consideration went into hisdecision. He also cited voting trends in his district.

“My district went overwhelming for Chip Pickering,” Barnettsaid, referring to the Republican congressman’s victory overDemocrat Ronnie Shows in last year’s Third District U.S.Representative race. “There seems to be a change taking place inDistrict 92, and I want to represent the people of mydistrict.”

Barnett said he plans to qualify Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. StateRepublican Party Chairman Jim Herring and other GOP officials, aswell Barnett’s wife Roberta and son Paul, are expected to be inattendance.

Barnett remembered his son Jimmy, who died several years ago ina plane crash at the Brookhaven airport, in his decision to switchparties.

“He was very conservative and Republican,” the elder Barnettsaid.

Four years ago, state Democrats decertified Barnett as acandidate after learning he had voted in an earlier Republican U.S.Congressional primary. After some controversy surrounding theDemocrats’ move, he was allowed back on the ballot.

Barnett said the situation four years ago was “absolutely” afactor in his decision to change parties.

“The Democrats did not want me because I had voted for MikeParker,” said Barnett, adding that he expected a similar move thisyear.

Barnett said Parker, a former Democrat who also switched to theRepublican party, was a long-time friend and also a former medicalpatient of his.

“I vote for the issue and the person,” said Barnett, adding thathe had consistently voted conservatively throughout his legislativecareer. “I’m not as party-oriented as some people.”

Barnett is the first candidate to qualify in the race for HouseDistrict 92. He did not speculate whether his move would garner hima Democratic opponent before Saturday’s qualifying deadline.

“I want to continue to do my best to represent the people ofthis district,” Barnett said.

Following last year’s redistricting, Barnett’s district nowincludes portions of Lincoln, Franklin and Copiah counties. Barnettsaid he is looking forward to representing everyone in hisdistrict.

“With the help of a lot of people, we’ve accomplished a greatdeal,” Barnett said. “There’s a great deal left to be done.”

Barnett mentioned the state’s financial condition as onearea.

“I’m doing my best to help tighten our belts and be fiscallyresponsible,” Barnett said.

On the House side, Barnett joins Rep. Herb Frierson, ofPoplarville, as converts to the Republican Party. On the Senateside, Lt. Gov. Amy Tuck and Sen. Terry Burton, of Newton, switchedearlier this year.

Of the 122 House members, 25 are Republican. Among 52 statesenators, 20 are Republican, according to state partyheadquarters.

Chuck Nelms, Lincoln County Republican Party Executive Committeechairman, congratulated Barnett on a courageous decision. He saidBarnett is a man of integrity who supports issues that areimportant to Brookhaven and Lincoln County.

“He’s more than welcome in the Republican Party,” Nelms said.”He’s well-respected by his constituents, and he’s a great leaderfor the county and the state.”

Nelms also touted Barnett’s actions as a legislator and therespect he receives from his colleagues.

“When he gives his word, they can count on it,” Nelms said.