State Sen. Burton makes switch to the GOP
from staff reports
Dec. 30, 2002
State Sen. Terry Burton announced in Newton today that he is changing his political party affiliation to Republican from Democrat.
Burton, 46, a former mayor of Newton, was first elected to the state Senate in 1991 from District 31, which includes Newton, Scott and parts of Lauderdale counties.
He currently serves as chairman of the Senate Universities and Colleges Committee and has seven other committee assignments, including Appropriations, Education, Highways and Transportation, Insurance, Public Health and Welfare, Public Utilities and Investigate State Offices.
He shared with The Meridian Star editorial board some of his reasons for switching to the Republican Party and his thoughts on other state issues.
The Meridian Star: Why did you decide to change your political party affiliation at this time?
Sen. Terry Burton: The qualifying deadline for the 2003 elections is March 1. I wanted the people in Senate District 31 to know that I plan to seek re-election to the Senate and that I will be qualifying as a Republican candidate.
The Star: How much did Lt. Gov. Amy Tuck's decision to become a Republican influence your decision?
Burton: I have and will continue to support the lieutenant governor regardless of our party affiliations. We each have our politics and apparently both she and I have philosophies more in line with the Republican Party.
The Star: From what you can determine so far, how is your decision being received by your constituents?
Burton: Most, the great majority of those with whom I have told of my decision, have been very supportive. Comments like, "Whatever you do, we support you" are very common.
The Star: What principles, concepts or core political beliefs held by the Republican Party attracted you?
Burton: Strong family, anti-crime, strong military, pro-business and opportunities for all citizens are some of the core principles of the party that I strongly support.
The Star: In what way do your political views differ from those of the Mississippi Democratic Party and the national Democratic Party?
Burton: I believe that individuals should be given opportunities to succeed and not depend on a government that does all the work for them. I believe in including all points of view in developing party policy and not excluding those who don't agree with the national liberal Democratic Party agenda. I think the state party is moving more toward aligning itself with national Democratic leaders who don't share most Mississippians' views.
The Star: How will your decision affect your philosophy and work in the state Senate during the 2003 Legislature?
Burton: My philosophy and my work will not be affected in any way. I will still fight for those who cannot speak for themselves and vote for those issues that will positively affect Mississippi.
The Star: Do you plan to run for re-election next year as a Republican? If so, how will your party switch affect your chances at winning another term?
Burton: Yes, and I hope people will vote for me because I work hard, because I listen to them and because I have done a good job for them rather than what party I associate with.
The Star: Was there any specific issue that led you to decide to change you party affiliation?
Burton: No, this decision was well thought out and determined by many factors over a period of several years.
The Star: Mississippi Republican Party chairman Jim Herring wants the Legislature to organize along party lines much like Congress. Do you support this? Why or why not?
Burton: The system works well in Mississippi as it is. Other states are envious of the way we do business in the Legislature. I'm open to talking about doing things differently, but at first glance, no.
The Star: Could you assess the Republican Party's chances of taking the governor's office, lieutenant governor's office and control of the state Senate and House next year?
Burton: I think the party has an excellent chance of winning the offices of governor and lieutenant governor. The Senate is very possible. As for the House, I really am not qualified to say at this point.
The Star: What is the top issue facing the Legislature and Mississippi heading into the 2003 session?
Burton: The state budget is absolutely the most critical issue facing us next year.
The Star: Do you anticipate any additional legislative colleagues making the same party switch you did?
Burton: I would hope that other office holders, regardless of what local or state office they hold, will consider, pray about and discuss their core beliefs and realize that the modern Republican Party in Mississippi is indeed the party of inclusion and then make the decision to join us.