State Rep. David Hillman, an Almyra farmer recently elected as a Democrat to a third term, announced today that he was switching to the Republican Party, giving the GOP 75 of the 100 House seats.
Hillman’s statement said, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette:
After much prayer, thought, and consultation (and a few sleepless nights) in order to better represent the changing political views of the people in our district, I have decided to change my party affiliation to Republican.
His switch gives the Republicans the ability to vote as a bloc to defeat even a minority effort to stop an appropriation bill, most of which require a 75 percent vote.
Hillman represents portions of Arkansas, White, Prairie and Lonoke counties. Those counties all went heavily for Donald Trump, with the 61 percent margin in Arkansas County, Hillman’s home, the narrowest of the four. He was unopposed for re-election this year and in 2014, but narrowly defeated a Republican in 2012.
Republicans control 24 of the 35 Senate seats, with 27 necessary for a 75 percent majority.
UPDATE: State Rep. Michael John Gray, the House Democratic leader, issued a statement:
“Representative Hillman is more than a colleague, he is a friend. This was a move that he felt like he had to make. Therefore, I wish my friend the best of luck. I look forward to assisting the people of Arkansas, Lonoke, Prairie and White counties in recruiting a Democratic candidate for the 2018 election.”