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Lone GOP county commmissioner now a Dem?

Broward County political circles were buzzing with rumors that the County Commission's lone Republican, Al Jones, switched to the Democratic Party Friday which will increase his chances of winning the seat in November.

Jones could not be reached for comment Friday or Saturday and his chief of staff Torey Alston said he
could not comment.

 "I know the commissioner will probably have comments on that situation,'' said Alston, who said his boss was out of town at his daughter's college graduation and will not comment until Monday. "That will come.''

Party officials on both sides of the aisle confirmed that they had heard from individuals close to Jones Friday that he was switching parties.

Chip LaMarca, Broward's past GOP chair, said that Alston told LaMarca Friday night that Jones was switching.

"I have had that conversation with Al numerous times. He assured me he would always remember the people that got to him where he is,'' LaMarca said. "His party label didn't define him though he was a Republican through and through. From a political standpoint I understand the almost insurmountable numbers but I think you sell yourself as a representative of the people regardless of your

Those 'almost insurmountable' numbers: 72 percent Democratic registration in Jones' district which spans several cities from Fort Lauderdale to Pompano Beach.

Broward Democratic Chairman Mitch Ceasar said he received a call from an activist who is also friends with Jones on Friday telling him Jones planned to switch and wanted to meet with Ceasar.

The rumor mill began Friday when Ron Gunzburger, who runs the politics1 website and works for the property appraiser next door to the elections office at county hall, reported Jones' switch.

Mary Cooney, spokesperson for the Broward Supervisor of Elections, said Saturday she was unaware of whether Jones had switched parties -- something he could have mailed in or had handled with others in her office. But Cooney said that the deadline to switch for the November election was this week.

On Friday, a woman who identified herself as Gwen, an aide to former County Commissioner Josephus Eggelletion -- who held the seat before Jones -- called Cooney to ask about switching parties for a candidate. Gwendolyn Hudson listed on Jones' county website as his aide.

Jones was appointed by Gov. Charlie Crist to replace Eggelletion when he was ousted amid corruption charges.