The way I see it, if he's going to vote against most in his own party, he may as well switch.
All politicians should vote the way they think right and not how their party tells them to vote.
That being said, I think he's just trying desperately to keep his carreer. His area has by in large turned democrat to the point where he had no chance of being reelected as a republican, even if in name only.
That being said, I do have to agree with him a little bit about democrats being closer to traditional conservative values in a few areas. The environment is one of those. Conservatives were the original environmentalists. By in large the conservative group is made up of people who had a large stake in keeping the environment healthy. They were the fishermen, the hunters, and the farmers. For some reason though, between the 70's and 90's they let liberals (who typically live in cities where they never even get to see the environment) hijack environmentalism. I have a theory on why that happened... I think it was likely fallout from the ever growing media coverage. I think that as media coverage increased, the media began covering more minor events. So they started covering things like the nutcases who threw paint on celebrities wearing fur, etc. But conservative environmentalism didn't get any media coverage because it's boring and not news worthy. Conservative environmentalism doesn't hold big rallies or protests, it doesn't throw paint or put draino in the gas tanks of bulldozers, it didn't do anything newsworthy. So eventually environmentalism becaume almost synonymous with liberalism in most people's minds which is why today you see the likes of Limbaugh urging his followers to deliberately harm the environment. Trouble is, environmentalism in its original form is the right course of action, and most of the farmers, hunters, and fishermen still understand that even though the party that they once trusted has been screaming the opposite to them. So they are being alienated by their own party whose leaders now also live in cities where they don't have any use for or contact with the environment that the rest of us do. So they are switching parties now... in this guy's area there has been a net shift of over 200,000 people headed the same way he is.
What I see happening now, and here's the thing that really scares me, is that I see democrats doing the same thing with freedom that they did with environmentalism. The loss of freesdom over the last eight years has been staggering, and currently the most vocal republicans (Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, etc.) continue to be more than eager to give up that freedom in the name of safety and security which is never more than an illusion anyway... or in this case, to keep one more seat in the balance of power for the next couple years. I'll tell you this much, you may not like what this guy did, but you should all thank God you live in a country where people still have the freedom to switch political affiliations. Furthermore, not one soldier that died for this country did so to prevent people from being able to do that. When I see republicans expressing that they think things like this should be capital offenses, I can't help but think to myself that if this continues much longer the very word "freedom" will come to be synonymous with democrats just like environmentalism has become synonymous with liberalism... and the republican party will lose the rest of the influence and credibility it has left. Then we'll just be a one party system... and that's a far scarier thought than anything Obama might do in the next 3 and a half years.