Today, Arkansas Democrats welcomed a new member to their party and scored a major coup in the process.

Republican Justice of the Peace Bob Johnson of Jacksonville announced at a press conference today he was switching from the GOP to the Democratic Party. Johnson also announced he’s running for State Representative, District 42.

Johnson gave a compelling reason for making the party switch:

“I grew up as a moderate Republican, my father was very close to Governor Rockefeller, it has been very personal to me. In the last several years, the Party has just moved too far to the right and is dominated by people that say ‘no’ to everything. Because of that, I am now better described as a conservative Democrat.”

It sounds like Bob Johnson didn’t leave the Republican Party, the Republican Party left him.

Johnson speaks the truth about the modern Republic Party, there’s no room for moderates.

The party has gone so far to the right that neither Governor Winthrop Rockefeller or his son, Lt. Governor Win Rockefeller, could make it out of the primary if they were running today. One raised taxes and the other hosted Planned Parenthood fundraisers, you can’t do those things in today’s rigid, far-right Republic Party.

In Arkansas we have Democrats who self-identify as conservative, moderate or liberal, and all welcome. Arkansas Democrats tend to skew moderate-to-conservative, with a very small contingent of liberals.

However, Arkansas Republicans must always call themselves a conservative – no room for dissent in that party, all must be pure. Imagine if an Arkansas Republican candidate proudly proclaimed themselves as a “moderate Republican”. That person would undoubtedly never make it out of the primary.

Johnson succinctly summed up why he’s running for State Representative:

“First and foremost, I am running to serve the people of Jacksonville and further the agenda of education and sound fiscal government.”

If he had run as a Republican, Bob Johnson would have made a formidable candidate and Democrats may have lost a seat that is currently held by term-limited Democrat Mark Perry. As a JP, Johnson has built a base of support that can propel him to the State Legislature.

Having Bob Johnson running as a conservative Democrat means he’ll fit right in with other conservative Democrats serving in the State Legislature.

Finally, with Johnson’s switch, it makes it just a little bit tougher for Republicans to hold onto their slim majority in the State House.

You can read Johnson’s entire press release below.

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Bob Johnson Running for State Representative

Switching from Republican to Democratic Party

(Jacksonville, Arkansas) – Pulaski County Justice of the Peace Bob Johnson of Jacksonville announced today that he is running for Arkansas State Representative in House District 42. The seat is currently held by Democrat Mark Perry of Jacksonville who is term-limited.

Johnson also announced in front of a group of family and friends at his accounting office that he is switching his life-long membership from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party.

“First and foremost, I am running to serve the people of Jacksonville and further the agenda of education and sound fiscal government,” said Bob Johnson, “I am a huge advocate of the Jacksonville area having its own school district.”

Johnson has served on the Pulaski County Quorum Court since 2005. His background as a Certified Public Accountant allowed him to help balance the finances of County Government during a troubled time.

“When I came unto the Quorum Court the finances of the county were out of control,” said Johnson, “Now, we are in great fiscal shape.”

Johnson also addressed his party switch.

“I grew up as a moderate Republican, my father was very close to Governor Rockefeller, it has been very personal to me,” said Johnson, “In the last several years, the Party has just moved too far to the right and is dominated by people that say ‘no’ to everything. Because of that, I am now better described as a conservative Democrat.”

Johnson plans to focus on education and balanced budgets when elected. He has long been a proponent of the Jacksonville area having its own school district.

“We are closer than ever to having our own school district,” said Johnson.

District 42 covers most of the city of Jacksonville. Johnson started his accounting practice in Jacksonville in 1990. He is married to Laurie Anne Johnson and they have five children. He is a member of the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce, the Jacksonville Rotary Club, Jacksonville Sertoma Club and attends That Church in Sherwood.

For more information, please contact Bob Johnson at (501) 982-1975 or bobjohnsoncpa@gmail.com.

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Michael Cook is the moderator for his opinion blog, Cook's Outlook. He can be reached by e-mail at Michael@CooksOutlook.com. Follow him on Twitter: @mcookAR or on Facebook: facebook.com/CooksOutlook.