Today North Carolina is the most embattled of the battleground states. In 2010 Tea party Republicans captured majorities in both houses of the state legislature and swiftly proceeded to impose the most radical and racially segregated redistricting in US history.
Massive blocs of Black voters were deliberately sectioned off from Democratic districts and isolated inside new Tea Party Republican districts. Some precincts were even split between districts. Democrats filed a lawsuit that is pending, but the outcome of the Tea Party redistricting will result in sending more Republicans to Congress at the cost of more than one Democratic incumbent.
In North Carolina’s most remote western district (NC-11) where fundamentalist snake handlers actually help provide the Republicans with the core substance of their political vibrancy, Democratic Congressman Heath Shuler who is the current Chair of the Blue Dog Caucus saw the handwriting on the wall and announced his retirement and return to the private sector after serving out his current term.
To replace Shuler, Hayden Rogers emerged as another ideological conservative willing to label himself a Blue Dog Democrat. To set the tone of his campaign, one week ago Mr. Rogers announced that he would not endorse President Obama and let it be known that he would not attend the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte.
In rejecting his opportunity to endorse President Obama, Hayden Rogers was simply following his Blue Dog marching orders. Veteran Blue Dogs, Larry Kissell (NC-7) and Mike McIntyre (NC-8) set the standard by announcing that they would not endorse President Obama. Neither did they support the Affordable Care Act, the Dream Act or anything remotely resembling mainstream Democratic legislation.
Kissell’s act of self-serving political treachery struck a particularly painful nerve. When stories emerged that Kissell refused to support Obama and even though he represents a district that extends into Charlotte he would not attend the Democratic National Convention, real North Carolina Democrats hit the ceiling.
The Blue Dog practice of kicking President Obama in the gut spread rapidly. Patsy Keever running against incumbent Tea Party Republican Patrick McHenry in NC-10 joined the chorus. Soon enough, it began to dawn on Democrats in North Carolina that this rush to crush President Obama’s credibility was jeopardizing the battle to win the key battleground state.
Then seizing the tea-imbibing elephant by the tusks the former Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Congressman G. K. Butterfield announced that the African-American Caucus would neither endorse nor support Kissell’s re-election.
Enter Congressman Steve Israel the current Chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC). While many North Carolina Congressional candidates have complained that the DCCC would not return their telephone calls, and one reported that when he appeared at the DCCC in Washington, he was rudely ejected by a clerical worker, Steve Israel heaped insult on injury by announcing that Blue Dogs in NC would get millions of dollars while mainstream challengers to Republican opponents would get nil, nothing, zero in campaign funds.
Steve Israel’s DCCC allocated $1.1 million to re-elect the now patently unelectable Kissell and $1 million to re-elect the unelectable Mike McIntyre.
McIntyre has been a particularly recalcitrant Blue Dog in opposition to all progressive Democratic legislation. At the caucus of NC-7 to elect new officers recently, the seventy delegates bemoaned McIntyre’s deeply unpopular voting record. Highly respected Democrats stood up to launch tirades against McIntyre whom they believe to be peculiarly unacceptable to Democratic voters in his own district.
More: with poor turnouts anticipated for his fundraisers, McIntyre attempted to paper his house with freebies for African-Americans – but, there were no takers, none, zero, nada. McIntyre’s lackluster fundraising has come to a virtual standstill, but Steve Israel’s DCCC is coming to his rescue with a cool million that will probably create more apathy among the Democratic base than support for the unpopular Congressman.
In McIntyre’s ‘beautiful’ mind Steve Israel is providing a God-given gift. In scores of private conversations McIntyre has confounded his supporters by confiding to them his vision that he is doing the work of God who appointed him to lead the restoration of the Democratic Party as a conservative force for American renewal and a return to that olde tyme religion that is good enough for him. Unsurprisingly McIntyre is anti-abortion, anti-gay rights, anti-immigrant, anti-drug reform, supports a Constitutional amendment to permit prayer in schools and is pro-NRA.
Politically, McIntyre backs Third Way along with Joe Lieberman and Kay Hagan. McIntyre opposes church-state separation and was a member of the now defunct Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) as well as the Blue Dog caucus.
The DCCC dropping millions onto hopeless Blue Dogs seems worse than merely stupid, because it deprives other very worthy Democratic nominees for Congress from badly needed funding – not to mention the fact that it undoubtedly torpedoes the Obama campaign in this most intensely embattled state.
For instance, retired Lieutenant Colonel Steve Wilkins is facing Tea Party Queen Renee Ellmers in NC-2. Former Marine Sergeant Erik Anderson is facing Republican Walter Jones in NC-3. Elizabeth Motsinger is facing Tea Party darling Virginia Fox in NC-5. Tony Foriest is facing rock-ribbed Republican Howard Coble in NC-6. Jennifer Roberts is running for Congress in NC-9 against a non-incumbent - and there is a runoff to decide her Republican challenger. None of these Democratic challengers is getting any financial support from the DCCC while the cowardly and disloyal Blue Dogs are feted with millions.
The overwhelming advantage for Blue Dogs in North Carolina provided by the generosity of the DCCC is galling to rank-and-file Democrats. “These people are not even Democrats. They vote against health care and bank regulation while supporting tax cuts for the rich and refusing to back the sitting Democratic president. I am sick of sending money to the DCCC,” exclaimed one longstanding member of the State Executive Committee.
To pour gasoline on a burning fire Steve Israel just announced that Hayden Rogers (wannabe Blue Dog successor to Heath Shuler in NC-11) has just been upgraded to a Red-To-Blue district so he can receive even more funding. This is particularly odd, since Rogers is running to replace Heath Shuler, meaning that his district is already blue, but why on earth should that fact bother the DCCC?
Make no mistake about it: the DCCC has a long record of backing right-leaning Democrats and favoring Blue Dogs at the expense of mainstream Democrats who represent the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party. When Rahm Emanuel was chair of the DCCC the press was flooded with complaints of Rahmbo strong-arming moderate and mainstream Dems out of primaries to support Blue Dogs like Shuler who could be relied on to back the war in Iraq so as to nullify the old Republican taunt about Democrats being weak on national security.
Rahm Emanuel had a devastating impact on the Clinton administration that constantly moved to the right over the course of eight years. As Chief of Staff at the Obama White House, Emanuel came into conflict with First Lady Michelle Obama over his favorite default policy of compromising with the right. Now sitting in the Mayor’s office in Chicago, Emanuel keeps close watch over his erstwhile playground at the DCCC.
Perhaps, Michelle Obama will ask Rahm Emanuel to have a tete-a-tete with his dear friend, Steve Israel. Or, perhaps, the President will summon Steve Israel to a meeting with Jim Messina, Obama’s Campaign Manager who will read Israel the riot act. Perhaps, however, the Blue Dogs will get the campaign money to feed the greed of centrist consultants who will make hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees for throwing these elections to the Republicans. Perhaps, on the other hand, people will stop sending their money to the DCCC because of its well-earned track record of passing the cash over to traitorous cowards like Kissell, McIntyre, Rogers and Keever.