State Rep. Jett Announces Change of Party Affiliation

Thursday, December 22, 2016
State Rep. Joe Jett

State Rep. Joe Jett of Success announced recently he has changed his political affiliation, and is now a member of the Republican Party. The change was announced by way of a news release sent to state and regional publications on Friday, Dec. 9.

Jett was first elected in 2012, as he replaced former State Rep. Mike Patterson of Piggott, due to term limitations. He ran unopposed as a Democrat in the following two primaries, and General Elections, including the most recent this past November.

His district includes all of Clay County, along with portions of Greene, Randolph and Lawrence counties.

He chairs the powerful Revenue and Taxation Committee and is a member of the Joint Budget and Insurance and Commerce committees along with the Arkansas Legislative Council and the committee on Economic and Tax Policy.

Talk of his possible change of parties began to circulate in the capitol shortly after the election, as both chambers began to feel the impact of the November election. At the time Jett told reporters he had no intentions of changing, but in the weeks since those sentiments changed.

"This is not a decision I made lightly," Jett said in the press release. "I have given this a considerable amount of time, thought and prayer. I was encouraged to move forward after meeting with constituents throughout District 56."

Jett is the third such Democrat to change party affiliations after the General Election, cutting the number in the House to just 24. The change also impacts the Revenue and Taxation Committee he chairs, as the switch by Jett to Republican evens the number from each party to 10-10.

"I believe this will allow me to continue to be the most effective legislator I can be for the residents of my district," he said.

Jett also pointed to a strong working relationship with the current Republican leadership, and noted he believes that will continue as the session approaches.

"I don't plan on changing how I approach this job, which is to stay focused on the people of Arkansas and the residents of District 56," he added. "I want to use the experience and relationships I have to better the people of our state."

In response to the change, the Arkansas State Democratic Party released this statement:

"Today's announcement that State Rep. Joe Jett changed his party affiliation came as no surprise. Rep. Jett disappeared from Democratic politics after 2014, and lacked the courage to change political parties before the November 2016 election. But, it doesn't take an ounce of courage to abandon your party or sellout your values when you're outnumbered. Every time Joe Jett has appeared on the ballot he has been unopposed. The Democratic Party of Arkansas will work hard to recruit a qualified candidate to ensure the voters of House District 56 have a choice in 2018."

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