Veteran state lawmaker Brisson changing parties, joining GOP

Published: Oct. 25, 2017 at 2:09 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 25, 2017 at 3:28 PM EDT
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BLADEN COUNTY, NC (WECT) - As he prepares to run for a seventh term in the North Carolina General Assembly, Rep. William Brisson of Dublin is changing his party affiliation from Democrat to Republican. Brisson represents District 22 in the House of Representatives, which covers nearly all of Bladen and Sampson counties, and a small part of Johnston County.

Brisson, 71, said he has contemplated the switch for several years.

"I've always been a conservative Democrat," Brisson said Wednesday morning. "All of my district is rural, and a lot of my constituents are. I've been getting a lot of pressure from my constituents in the past few years to change. I don't have a lot in common with the Democratic Party right now because they have become so liberal."

Brisson has voted with the Republican majority on many budget-related bills. He was one of five Democrats to vote with the GOP majority on the 2017 budget, and one of two Democrats voting to override Gov. Roy Cooper's veto of the bill.

Brisson was the lone Democrat to vote for House Bill 56, which designated $435,000 to Cape Fear Public Utility Authority and UNC Wilmington instead of state agencies to find, treat and remove chemicals like GenX discharged into the Cape Fear River.

He was also one of 11 Democrats who joined Republicans supporting the controversial House Bill 2 in 2016. His switch will increase the GOP majority to 75-45 in the state House.

"I've voted with them (Republicans) when I felt it was better for the people I represent," Brisson said. "It's all about the people with me, and it always has been. It's not as much about party vote with me. I cannot support everything the Democratic Party is pushing today. A lot of seats we've lost in the last few years came in the rural areas. I feel like by changing, I'll be in a better position to serve the people."

"Representative Brisson is an honest public servant, but one who rarely caucuses with Democrats and votes more than nine out of 10 times with the Republican majority," North Carolina Democratic Party Chair Wayne Goodwin said in a statement released Wednesday. "Our party remains committed to fighting for every seat possible in order to retake the majority by 2020."

"Representative Brisson has been a hard-working and conservative voice in our state legislature for quite some time now," North Carolina GOP Chair Robin Hayes said. "We are elated with his decision to switch his registration to a political party that will better serve himself and his constituents."

Brisson said he plans to file the paperwork to switch parties on Wednesday.

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