The prospect of Democratic Rep. Walt Minnick, the least loyal Democrat in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's stable, switching parties has been raised by Republicans in a
story in CQ's Roll Call.
"Democratic Reps. Dan Boren (Okla.), Walt Minnick (Idaho) and Heath Shuler (N.C.) are all on the Republicans' target list. Reps. Mike McIntyre (N.C.) and Gene Taylor (Miss.) are also considered potential gets," write Anna Palmer and Steven T. Dennis.
The Roll Call story, published late Monday, doesn't include a reply from the 1st District freshman who faces GOP state Rep. Raul Labrador in the Nov. 2 election. But his campaign manager, John Foster, said the former Republican who worked in the Nixon White House won't return to the GOP fold.
"No," said Foster. "His independent voting record lands him on these lists. But Walt has no intention of changing parties, but he has every intention of winning this election and continuing to be the most independent member of the House."
Minnick's voted with his party in 71 percent of 1,536 votes, the lowest figure among either party in the House, according to a Washington Post analysis. Idaho's 2nd District GOP Rep. Mike Simpson voted with his Republican colleagues in 90 percent of 1,536 votes. The average Democrat votes with his or her party 92 percent of the time, according to the Post, the average Republican 88 percent of the time.
Meanwhile, Pelosi is more concerned about keeping Democrats in control of the House than party discipline, according to a report by CNN's Gloria Borger, who asked Pelosi about Minnick's refusal to say whether he'll vote to re-elect Pelosi as speaker.
Writes Borger: "When I asked her about Rep. Walt Minnick of Idaho, who told CNN that he hasn't yet decided if he would back Pelosi as speaker, her response was instantaneous.
"'Go for it,'" she said. "'Just win your election. I just want them to win. It's their election. It's not about me.'"
Rep. Simpson told the Statesman in June that he's urged Minnick to defect from Pelosi should the Democrats remain in control and be part of a conservative cabal that replaces her with Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland. Hoyer was in Boise in August to raise money for Minnick.
Minnick refused to say what he would do, telling the Statesman, "It's premature until one sees the lineup of the next House of Representatives. If there are multiple candidates - and there were not last time - I will vote for whoever best represents my views and whoever I think best represents the thinking of Idahoans."
Minnick became a Democrat in order to run against then-Sen. Larry Craig in 1996. He said he retained his fiscally conservative views, but could not abide the GOP canon on social issues.
National reporters speculating on Minnick's returning to the GOP overlook the fact that he would be very unlikely to win a Republican primary in 2012 with his pro-choice views.
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