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GOP Courts Alexander, But La. Member Remains a Democrat

After publicly contemplating a party switch, Rep. Rodney Alexander (La.) has decided to remain a Democrat, according to a statement released by his office this morning.

“Although I am flattered by the offers of the Republicans to join their ranks, I am deciding to stay where I am,” Alexander said, even though he is supporting President Bush’ re-election effort.

Led by Louisiana Republican Reps. Billy Tauzin and David Vitter, GOPers made a behind-the-scenes push for Alexander that by all accounts was a near miss.

As late as Thursday evening, Democratic operatives were pessimistic about their chances of keeping Alexander in the fold and some expressed concern that he would announce his party switch as Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry (D), the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, toured the Bayou State today.

Alexander told the New Orleans Times-Picayune that he wouldn’t endorse Kerry, adding: “I didn’t think his views are consistent with my own, or my Congressional district.”

Alexander has regularly sided with Republicans on key issues, including support for President Bush’s tax-cut plan, and is one of the most conservative members of the Democratic Caucus.

Republicans currently hold 228 seats to the Democrats’ 205; there is one Democratic-leaning Independent and one vacancy.

In January Texas Rep. Ralph Hall (R) left the Democratic Party just prior to that state’s Congressional filing deadline.

That switch was offset by Rep. Ben Chandler’s (D-Ky.) Feb. 17 special election victory to replace former Rep. Ernie Fletcher (R), who was elected governor.

Alexander was elected to the northeastern Louisiana 5th district in a December 2002 runoff.

He defeated Lee Fletcher, chief of staff to former 5th district Rep. John Cooksey (R), by just 974 votes in a district that gave Bush 57 percent of the vote in 2000.

Cooksey, who held the seat from 1996 to 2002, has formed an exploratory committee to begin raising money for another bid.

Polling conducted by Alexander’s campaign shows him with a double-digit edge over Cooksey.

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