LITTLE ROCK — State Rep. Joe Jett of Success said Friday he is switching his party affiliation from Democrat to Republican.
The party switch will give Republicans control of 76 seats in the 100-member House, more than enough to reach the three-fourths majority needed to pass appropriations bills without any support from Democrats. Reps. Jeff Wardlaw of Hermitage and David Hillman of Almyra announced last month they were switching from Democrats to Republicans.
Republicans will be a member short of a three-fourths majority next year in the Senate, where they will control 26 of the 35 seats.
Jett was first elected to the House in 2012 and will begin his third term in January. He is chairman of the House Revenue and Taxation Committee.
“This is not a decision I made lightly,” Jett said in a statement Friday. “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.”
District 56 includes Clay County and portions of Greene, Randolph and Lawrence counties.
“I don’t plan on changing how I approach this job, which is to stay focused on the people of Arkansas and my constituents. I want to use the experience and relationships I have to better the people of our state,” Jett said.
H.L. Moody, spokesman for the state Democratic Party, issued a statement Friday the party “will work hard to recruit a qualified candidate to ensure the voters of House District 56 have a choice in 2018.”
Moody also said Jett “disappeared from Democratic politics after 2014” and said it “doesn’t take an ounce of courage to abandon your party or sell out your values when you’re outnumbered.”
Jett did not immediately respond to an email Friday afternoon seeking a response to Moody’s statement.