Former Calvert County commissioner John Douglas Parran, in a move that could foreshadow a strategy for a political comeback in 2006, has once again switched his party affiliation, this time becoming a Democrat. He spent his four years in office alternating between Republican and unaffiliated.
Parran, who officially switched parties Wednesday, said he has not decided whether to run again for commissioner in two years. But if he does so, Parran said, he would probably file as a Democrat.
In 2002, Parran lost his bid for a second term when he was eliminated in the Republican primary.
"The bottom line is I feel comfortable with the Democrats," Parran said.
"I served Republicans well for four years, and if I do run again, I didn't want to take that chance again in a Republican primary," he said.
Parran lost his primary race by 14 votes to Gerald W. Clark, who had been a member of the Democratic Central Committee before switching to the GOP shortly before announcing his candidacy in 2002.
"I don't want to be accused of pulling a Jerry Clark three months before the next election in case I decide to run," Parran said.
Parran said that his switch was prompted mostly by national politics and that he did not change parties to "make anybody mad."
"Mainly I decided that I couldn't support George Bush," he said. "I'm really disappointed in his presidency, the war in Iraq, the loss of jobs, the whole everything.
"I'm going to support John Kerry."
Parran said he voted for Bush in 2000 and has "been a lifelong Republican, except when I changed to independent."
Parran was elected as a Republican in 1998 but spent seven months in 1999 as unaffiliated before coming back to the GOP in November of that year. Parran switched to unaffiliated again in 2000, giving essentially the same reason for switching as he did in 1999 -- he said he was tired of feeling pressured to vote the party line.
Parran added that he felt his failure to vote with his fellow Republicans on the Board of Commissioners had been frustrating for Linda L. Kelley, a Republican from Owings who was president of the board at the time.
"I mainly did it to sort of help her," he said.
Parran returned to the Republican Party in January 2002 soon before he filed for reelection. He said he did not run as an independent because of the difficulty in getting his name on the ballot. Under Maryland election law, candidates not affiliated with a political party must mount a petition drive.
"It's a tough way to go," Parran said.
Parran said switching to the Democratic Party "might have not been the best thing to do because Calvert is slowly going Republican."
"But my feeling is that you've got to do what you feel is right," he said. "For now and the foreseeable future I prefer to be a Democrat."
As of Friday, Calvert had 19,248 registered Democrats and 19,275 registered Republicans, according to Gail L. Hatfield, Calvert County's elections administrator.
But those numbers are subject to constant change -- as is Parran.
"I might change again," he said. "But for now I'm satisfied being a Democrat."