(CNSNews.com) - A Kentucky congressman is laying to rest any speculation about whether he'll be leaving the Democratic Party.
Rep. Ken Lucas (D-Ky.) Tuesday said he has no plans of joining the Republican Party, which expanded its House majority after the Nov. 5 elections.
"I am gratified and honored by the Republican leadership both in Kentucky and Washington, D.C., who want me to continue my congressional service," said Lucas in a statement. "However, the speculation should now stop: I am a Democrat. I've always been a Democrat."
Lucas, considered among the most conservative among his fellow House Democrats, made clear his loyalty to the party in spite of some of his policy differences.
"Let there be no mistake that I have strong disagreements with some of my party's national leadership on issues important to me: cutting taxes, a robust national defense, and principled support of life and the 2nd Amendment," he said.
But Lucas also struck the tone of the 'Loyal Opposition' Tuesday, saying, "President Bush needs leaders in the Democratic Party on issues surrounding the war on terrorism, homeland security, and traditional values. These should be issues of bipartisan attention."
Lucas said he'll continue to caucus with his fellow Blue Dog Democrats, a group of moderate and conservative Democrats in Congress.
The Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call reported Nov. 25 that Lucas may be contemplating a jump to the GOP after meetings with House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.).
In 2000, Lucas received a rating of 60 from the American Conservative Union and a rating of 87 from the Christian Coalition. By comparison, the liberal American Civil Liberties Union gave Lucas a rating of 8 and Americans for Democratic Action gave him a rating of 25.
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Time is Ripe for Dems to Join GOP, Analysts Say (Nov. 26, 2002)