State Rep. Paul Froehlich, who switched partisan stripes this week, said his new allies gave him "an enthusiastic welcome" on Wednesday, his first day as a House Democrat.
Froehlich, of Schaumburg, formally announced Tuesday that he was leaving the Republican Party and joining the Democrats, who hold a majority in the House of Representatives. Democrats also control the state Senate and the governor's office.
As one consequence of his shift, Froehlich abandoned the House floor seat he previously occupied in the first row of the Republican side of the chamber. He now sits in the first row on the Democratic side of the chamber, between Reps. Cynthia Soto of Chicago and Lisa Hernandez of Cicero.
They and other Democrats greeted Froehlich with handshakes and hugs when the House convened Wednesday afternoon.
Froehlich is still waiting for House Democrats to give him a new office and new committee assignments.
"The Democrats are kind of short on space, so they haven't found me an office yet," he said. "But I think that'll be worked out in the next week or so."
Froehlich said he had been thinking about jumping to the Democrats for several weeks, but the "final straw" came when he was told that Republican party leaders are looking for a primary opponent to take him on next year.
"I leave with some sadness and fondness for the Grand Old Party," he said.
He said he has built good relationships with Democrats, voting with them on many issues and co-sponsoring their bills.
"I've got a lot of friends here, so I don't feel I'm going to be an odd man out," he said. "I think I'm going to be embraced as a full member of the (House Democratic) caucus."