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Blue Dog Will Stay a Democrat but Won’t Back Pelosi

Rep. Dan Boren, the only Democrat in Oklahoma’s Congressional delegation, told Roll Call on Friday he “will never switch parties” and reiterated that he would not support Speaker Nancy Pelosi for Minority Leader.

“I intend to support someone who is more conservative,” he said in an interview. “I think it’s important for the party to move in a new direction for the sake of the country.”

Boren made the comments as Pelosi announced her intentions to make a bid to be the Democratic leader, a move that set off a leadership fight and puts the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Democrats who didn’t lose their elections Tuesday in the tough spot of embracing or voting against the California Democrat.

Boren said he would not run for Minority Leader himself but hasn’t decided whom he will support, noting that he hasn’t yet spoken to his “good friend” Rep. Heath Shuler, a fellow member of the Blue Dog Coalition who has said he would run against Pelosi.

“It’s still too early to tell,” he said. “There are a lot of names being tossed around, but I’m going to see, visit with my Caucus.”

Boren said he doesn’t have a litmus test for a potential Minority Leader and would be willing to vote for someone who isn’t a Blue Dog.

Boren won his re-election race with 57 percent of the vote over Republican Charles Thompson, a veterinarian and first-time candidate who became the nominee after a late August runoff. Boren is one of 10 Democrats who won re-election on Tuesday and represents a district where Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) won the presidential vote in 2008; the National Republican Congressional Committee vowed to place them high on its target list earlier this week.

The Oklahoman, first elected in 2004, said he hasn’t yet decided whether he will run for re-election in 2012.

“I usually don’t make that decision until a year out,” he said.

Thompson said he hasn’t decided whether he will run in 2012 either.

“I will tell you that it’s not out of the question, but that’s as far as I’ll go with it,” the Republican said in an interview Wednesday.

The Blue Dogs are “holding some calls” about Pelosi’s bid and who might challenge her, a spokesman for Rep. Jim Matheson (D-Utah) told Roll Call.

Matheson, the Blue Dog co-chairman for communications, “does not think Pelosi should run” for Minority Leader, said his spokeswoman Alyson Heyrend.

Kyle Trygstad contributed to this report.

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