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Spurred on by Redistricting, Ralph Hall to Join GOP

Rep. Ralph Hall (D-Texas) has declared his intention to switch parties just days before a three-judge federal panel is expected to rule on the Republican-backed map that would significantly alter a number of Lone Star State districts, including Hall’s, according to several Capitol Hill sources.

Hall was placing calls to Republican House leadership informing them of his decision to seek re-election as a Republican late Friday.

Under one oft-discussed scenario, Hall could file to run against Rep. Max Sandlin (D) in the redrawn 1st district, which was made 5 points more Republican under the new map, the sources said.

One of the most conservative Democrats in the House Caucus, Hall has long been rumored to be a party-switcher. His close friendship with President Bush has added fuel to those rumors.

Although party-switching was rampant in the wake of Republicans winning control of the House and Senate in the 1994 elections, no one has traded allegiances since New York Rep. Michael Forbes went from Republican to Democrat in July 1999.

Forbes was subsequently defeated in the Democratic primary by unknown Regina Seltzer, who benefited from significant spending by the National Republican Congressional Committee, which sent out mailers to Democratic voters detailing Forbes’ past opposition to the assault weapons ban and other popular liberal legislation.

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