ERVIN switches from Democrat to Republican

Tuesday, September 4th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Rep. Mike Ervin of Wewoka, one of two Democrats to join an unsuccessful move to oust House Speaker Larry Adair this year, announced Tuesday that he will switch his party affiliation to Republican.

Ervin, elected to four two-year terms as a Democrat in House District 28, said he was making the change ``because I truly believe it is in the best interest of my district's constituents.''

The decision increases the number of Republicans in the 101-member House to 49, compared with 52 Democrats.

Ervin, 39, was not specific on why he joined the GOP ouster attempt, or changed parties, other than that he did not like ``the general leadership direction'' in the House.

``I am not deserting my Democrat friends, of which there are many, but feel that they have been deserted by the current House leadership who has stifled efforts to move Oklahoma forward,'' he said.

The new Republican was welcomed to the party at a news conference on the Capitol steps attended by a group of GOP officeholders, including U.S. Reps. Wes Watkins, J.C. Watts and Ernest Istook, Corporation Commissioner Denise Bode and several House members.

Rep. Fred Morgan, R-Oklahoma City, House minority leader, said the change by Ervin is not a harbinger of another House ouster attempt, despite rampant rumors and predictions in political news letters.

``I have no plans at this time to do anything to change the speaker's position,'' Morgan said, while predicting the GOP would win enough seats during the 2002 election to grab control of the House.

Ervin said he did not switch parties because of efforts to defeat him by some Democratic leaders in his district. He said he could have remained ``competitive'' as a Democratic candidate, despite joining the GOP move to remove Adair.

``I could have kept my head down, avoided making waves and stuck to the status quo _ I would have never had another election battle _ but this is the right thing to do,'' he said. ``I know it in my heart of hearts.''