The party’s executive committee met Thursday night and “voted unanimously to accept his obvious resignation from the party,” committee member Wendy Davis of Rome said.
“We haven’t finished the legal research, and we know he can’t be replaced at this late date, but he is no longer our nominee,” Davis said.
Crawford has held the House District 16 seat since 2007, taking over when Democrat Bill Cummings of Rockmart retired after 26 years as Polk County’s representative.
He’s facing a challenge in the Nov. 6 election from Republican Trey Kelley, a 25-year-old law student and director of marketing for W.C. Brooks Co. who chaired Gov. Nathan Deal’s 2010 campaign in Polk County.
Crawford’s removal would leave Kelley the sole candidate for the seat — a situation Davis said is immaterial.
“It looks like it’s going to be won by a Republican either way,” she said.
Crawford said he felt announcing his intention to switch parties ahead of the vote is “the honest way to go about it.”
“It’s hardly going to come as a shock to anyone who has paid attention to me and seen the positions I’ve taken,” he said.
The district was redrawn to cover all of Polk County and parts of southwestern Bartow and northern Haralson counties. Prior to that, it covered Polk and a southern sliver of Floyd County including Cave Spring.
Crawford was unopposed for re-election in 2010, but he beat out Republican Bob Culver by a scant 182-vote spread in 2008 — and both Haralson and Bartow counties lean heavily Republican.
Political advantage, however, is not the reason he’s making the switch, Crawford contends.
“It’s pretty apparent my philosophy and the philosophy of the Democratic Party have been growing farther and farther apart. And it’s not because I’ve changed,” he said. “When I found out they were coming out in support of gay marriage, I said ‘who am I kidding, that’s not my party.’”
Crawford said he’ll let others debate the political value of his move but, to him, it’s an inevitable change.
“The philosophical divide was too great to be bridged,” he said. “I’ve never been a party line voter but I’m very consistent. I’ve always been pro-life and pro-gun. It’s very clear where I’m coming from.”