They probably won't be needed to secure control of the House. That prospect brightens almost every day. But going after disaffected Democrats who are too conservative for their party sets up the GOP for even more significant control after 2012:
"You are looking for someone who has been there three, four or five terms who has a shot at going up the ladder," said John Feehery, a GOP strategist who served as communications director to former Speaker Dennis Hastert. "One who is enticed by a committee chairmanship or one who their districts are so terribly bad that voting for Pelosi would be the end of them."Taylor is in some trouble in his race but the others seem fairly certain of re-election. The question is how would a moderate Democrat fit into a more conservative Republican caucus in the House? I imagine on fiscal and tax issues, they would be pretty close. Others, not so much.
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.
House Democrats, meanwhile, are working on a counterstrategy to try to thwart any GOP poaching, and they are even eyeing a few Republicans they think might be willing to join their ranks. "There are certainly contingency plans being put in place if in fact the ratio is two or three [lawmakers] in different directions," a former Democratic leadership aide said.
Democratic leaders have been trying to make sure their vulnerable Members know how valuable they are to the Caucus by campaigning for them and contributing to their re-election efforts. After Nov. 2, Democrats also plan to stay close to potential party switchers to try to prevent any defections, the former aide said.
"Obviously they are going to try and steal Members," a senior Democratic aide said. But the staffer predicted that neither side would have much, if any, success.
It will come down to how big a tent most Republicans are willing to accept.