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GOP Eyes Potential Defectors

Republicans believe Boren may be the most likely party switcher. Boren has been known to side with the GOP, and he was the only Democrat to go on a 2009 Congressional delegation trip to Europe led by Boehner.

Some Democrats are viewed as a tougher get. Taylor, for instance, has been a prominent critic of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). But sources say he hasn’t made any inroads with Mississippi Republicans this cycle, which would signal he’s willing to move to the other side of the aisle.

“Our Members would not be running this hard if they wanted to switch,” another Democratic leadership aide said. “Plus, the last Member to switch lost his election.”

While it’s less likely that Democrats would be able to lure Republicans over, Democratic aides and lobbyists point to a few who might be in play. Reps. Charles Djou (Hawaii), Anh “Joseph” Cao (La.), and David Reichert (Wash.) are considered possible Democratic pickups, although each is vulnerable and may not win re-election this year.

Daniel Son, Djou’s spokesman, immediately dismissed talk of his boss’ changing teams: “While Congressman Djou is flattered that Democrats believe that he would be a valuable member of their caucus, he is absolutely not interested in switching parties.”

Cao, considered the most threatened GOP House Member this cycle, has “no intention of switching parties,” either, said Taylor Henry, the lawmaker’s spokesman.

A longer shot for Democrats would be Rep. Walter Jones Jr.(R-N.C.), a one-time Democrat who switched parties in 1994.

Asked about the possibility of Jones returning to the Democratic ranks, communications director Catherine Fodor said in an e-mail: “Congressman Jones is actively campaigning as a Republican candidate and looks forward to being a part of the Republican majority next year.”

Party switching isn’t uncommon after a major Congressional power shift. In 1995, after Republicans took control of Congress, several Democratic Members including then-Reps. Billy Tauzin (La.), Jimmy Hayes (La.), Nathan Deal (Ga.) and Greg Laughlin (Texas) joined the GOP. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) left the Democrats just days after the 1994 elections.

In most cases, Republican leadership promised Democrats senior positions on influential committees. Laughlin was offered a seat on the Ways and Means Committee. Tauzin became deputy Majority Whip and later took over as chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee.

Hayes, now a lobbyist, said he decided to become a Republican because he wanted to pass the Clean Water Act.

“I could only say that at the time legislation was moving forward and the events that were unfolding within the Democratic caucus, there was a bizarre circumstance,” Hayes said.

Hayes later lost his bid for Senate against Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.).

“It would be a different circumstance when changing parties today because the level of antagonism is so different today,” Hayes said. “There was no hate to it.”

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