Smith's announcement was made following a meeting of the House Republican caucus at the State Capitol in Little Rock. She met later the same evening for a press conference at the rural Pocahontas home of David and Kathy Smith (not related) with family, several local and state representatives, local dignitaries and media present.
Sharp County Republican leader Mike Byron and Sharp County Coroner Doug Wortham were present for the announcement and to support Smith in her decision. In addition, House Minority Leader John Burris, Representatives Terry Rice, John Parish, Jonathan Barnett and Nate Bell showed support for their fellow representative and friend. Bell said, "She represents the values of the people she serves."
The following is the Representative's speech, in its entirety:
"I have been proud to represent the great people of Randolph and sharp counties. I am here today to announce that as of today, I have joined the Republican Party My decision was made after much thought, prayer and discussion with my family. Some of them who are here today. I came to Little Rock this past January to carry out a solemn pledge that I made to my friends back at home, to all of you, a pledge to be a different kind of legislator, one who would stand for family values, those of the real Arkansans, and who would be a constant voice for those values even in the face of party politics, and pressure. I ran as a democrat because I was raised a democrat. My father was a democrat and my grandfather before him. I know that most of the democratic voters here in my home counties are informed citizens, they understand the issues. They are people who believe in solid conservative principles of limited govt. financial responsibility and the creation of jobs for hardworking families. I also know without a doubt, they want and deserve elected officials who will stand up for what is right, who will say what they mean, and who will do what they say they will do. Since my friends back home and most other Arkansans, regardless of the party, hold these same conservative values in their hearts, I felt it my solemn duty to represent them in Little Rock by casting my votes on their behalf exactly like I promised you that I would do. I believe my first duty to the people who elected me was that rather than to a political party or professional politicians. Arkansas' common sense voters made it clear they are fed up with the partisan politics and the "Win it at all cost" mentality that we see in Washington, where hanging on to power is more important than good government and getting reelected is more important than listening to the people when they speak. I listened, I did it. I came to Little Rock believing that it was not too late for the Arkansas Democratic Party to reject the far left drift of the national party, I truly hoped it would once again become the party of the people. I wanted to help move the party back, back to the views and the values of the everyday people. Unfortunately, I found that the politics of Washington and the politics of Liberal Left have become so entrenched in the Democratic party of Arkansas that there is no room for real conservatives. Those who question the folly of excessive taxation are un welcome, those who stand for the rights of babies in the womb are outcast and those who seek to create jobs by making Arkansas a business friendly state are punished. I grew up in Arkansas as a democrat, that was the party of the working man and the common people, sadly, that is no longer true. Rather, it has become the party of big government, big brother and big spending. It's uncontrolled tax and spend policies has caused us to live far beyond our means and has brought this great country to the brink of financial ruin. Our state desperately needs jobs We have watched factories and businesses close, locations all around us. States with little or no capital gains tax. The elimination of the state capital gains tax in Arkansas would gain some of those jobs. A good bill to eliminate the capital gains tax never got out of the Democratic controlled committee in the Senate. The state party has brought into excesses and the National Democrats it marches lock step with the liberal policies of the national party and it tolerates no independent thinking within the ranks. I know because I lived it. Because of these and other issues, I have made this decision. I do so because I have found the rep party that has become the party of the hardworking common sense people. The Republican party that strives to live by the ideal expressed in our state motto, "The People Rule." It is the Republican Party that most closely holds to the principles, that I and other Arkansans believe in. Government that manages limited finances wisely and lives within its means, Government that encourages the development of business both large and small to create jobs for hardworking Arkansas families. Government that values and protects the life of every citizen from the womb to the grave, government that doesn't try to regulate the everyday lifes and personal choices of law abiding citizens. Government that is better, not bigger. If you remember one thing, I hope its this. I have not changed, I am the same today as I was the day the people of Randolph and Sharp County elected me. I have not left the Democrat party, but the party left me and I believe it has left behind the majority of the good decent, freedom loving people of Arkansas. I have not changed I will continue to represent the people of my district with the same fervor and commitment that they expect and deserve. I have not changed, I will continue to work with the that people I represent for as long as they will have me, for as long as God permits me to do. I am proud to stand here with my new partners. It is like I told them, We went to work today. I will always work for you and serve the people of Randolph and Sharp Counties."
The change reduces the Democratic majority in the 100-member state House of Representatives to 54. Arkansas Democrats hold a 20-15 majority in the state Senate. Collins-Smith seat was redistricted, causing her to stand against the incumbent Republican in next year's election. Due to the redistricting, all 135 seats in the state Legislature will be up for election next year.
She hasn't commented on whether she will seek re-election.