Barbour congratulates Bounds as most statewide elected Republicans and others look on, including Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant, center.
Barbour congratulates Bounds as most statewide elected Republicans and others look on, including Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant, center.
JACKSON - Gov. Haley R. Barbour called state Rep. Scott Bounds a "reliable conservative who votes very much in line with the views of people that he represents" as he welcomed the Democrat from Philadelphia to the Republican Party on Monday at a press conference in Jackson.

As the switch was formally announced at Republican Party headquarters downtown, Bounds was flanked by his family - including his father Buck, a former Democrat state representative - and a throng of elected Republican officials such as the lieutenant governor and U.S. Rep. Gregg Harper.

"He's going to vote for what he thinks is right," Barbour said. "The people of Neshoba County will continue to see that and they can rely on it because he's that kind of person who represents the people that he is elected by and represents them to a tee."

Bounds began his remarks by introducing his mother-in-law Virginia Cheatham of Philadelphia, his father and Brad Bounds, one of his three brothers.

Bounds said his seven-year voting record in the House already shows where he stands on policy and fiscal issues.

"I guess what this is today, it is just an official declaration that I stand with the policy, beliefs, fiscal beliefs of this party," he said.

Bounds said he was touched to see so many fellow members of the House present.

"I have been embraced by these guys behind me. They have been with me through thick and thin. We are not going to be together on every issue."

Bounds pledged to continue his bipartisanship.

"Sometimes you've got to reach across the aisle," he said. 'I will continue to work with my Democratic colleagues in the House. They are still my friends. Nothing is changing about me. My voting record is not going to change a whole lot. I am just proud to be here, proud to be a part of this large family."

With his switch, Bounds becomes the 50th Republican member of the Mississippi House of Representatives.

"We welcome Rep. Bounds home to the party that best represents his values, beliefs, and now his politics," said Brad White, chairman of the Mississippi Republican Party.

Within minutes of the press conference, Democrats responded with a blistering assessment of Bounds' legislative record.

"The truth of the matter is that Scott has been a Democrat in name only," said Jamie Franks, chairman of the Mississippi Democrat Party.

Franks said Bounds voted with the Republicans more times than most Republican members of the House have.

"In fact, no Democrat has voted fewer times with the Democratic majority on key issues than Scott," he said.

Franks accused Bounds of lying to Neshoba County voters.

"What Scott Bounds did today was not switch parties, he just finally started telling the truth about what party he supports," Franks said. "He'll have to answer to voters in Neshoba County about lying to them for so long."

Bounds represents House District 44.

Bounds said his decision to switch political parties did not come about in haste.

"There has been much prayer and consultation with my family and many constituents over many months on this decision," he said.