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    The "Blue Dog" caucus of conservative House Democrats was virtually killed off in last week's voting.
     For years the caucus was the home of conservative, anti-leadership Southerners and their allies. But the last two elections have all but wiped out the breed.
     Just two years and two weeks ago, there were 54 members of the Blue Dog caucus. That got cut more than in half in 2010, to 25, and now stands at fourteen returning members. Of the eleven who are not returning, four retired (Dennis Cardoza, Mike Ross, Dan Boren, and Heath Shuler), two lost their primaries (Jason Altmire and Tim Holden). four were defeated on November 6th (Joe Baca, Leonard Boswell, Ben Chandler, and Larry Kissell), and Joe Donnelly was elected to the Senate.
     This would seem to be the end of an era. In the nine Confederate States not including Texas and Florida, there remain only seven White Democrats in the House. Two (Moran and Connolly) are from the D.C. suburbs, and one (Cohen) from a Black-majority district containing Memphis. David Price is a long-time progressive from North Carolina. The other three--Jim Cooper of Nashville, John Barrow of Georgia, Mike McIntyre of North Carolina--represent the last remnant of the Blue Dog idea.


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Comment Preferences

    •  Another 15 or 16 Blue Dogs in GOP seats.... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DvCM, Skipbidder

      ....and the Democrats would control the Speakership, chair all the House Committees, and control the agenda of the House. Boehner would be crying once again.

      Guys like Boren are the best the Dems can do in places like Oklahoma.

      It's one thing to complain about Blue Dogs in traditionally Democratic districts, it's another to cede entire regions of the country to the GOP.

      If the Democrats are going to regain the House in 2014, they will have to follow the example of Ed Rendell, who told Chuck Schumer that the best way to beat Rick Santorum was to run his (Rendell's) arch-enemy, Bob Casey.

      Casey was a principled pro-life Democrat, but he was far better than the devil incarnate Santorum. And Rendell believed that only a pro-life Democrat could beat Santorum.

      Casey is a thousand times better than Santorum, and part of the Senate Democratic majority. And the Blue Dogs were almost all better than the GOP wackos who ran against them or replaced them. I'd rather a big tent majority than a smaller tent being in the minority.  

      The Dems must stick to their 50 state strategy, and that means supporting Blue Dogs in areas where only Blue Dogs can win. Winning back the House would seem to require that.

  •  joe baca (6+ / 0-)

    Excuse me, but you represent(ed) a blue district and you (fucking) joined the Blue Dog caucus?

    For anyone who doesn't know, there are a whole lot of Bacas other than Joe.

    Every one of them is all about "how good is it for Bacas" and not one of them is about anything else.

    In my wildest dreams, I never thought Joe (He Works For You (no fucking way)) Baca would lose.

    Gloria Negrete Macias, I love you. I couldn't vote for you, but I love you.

    I am progressive. I am liberal. I make no apologies. - Kos

    My political compass: - 8.38,-6.97

    by pucklady on Sat Nov 17, 2012 at 05:50:28 PM PST

    •  Gloria Negrete McLeod (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

         is the Representative-elect from CA-35. You're mixing her name with that of Marta Macias Brown, who was defeated by Joe Baca in the race to replace the late George Brown (Marta's husband) in Congress. Unfortunately the progressive Macias Brown did not get to go to Congress.

           The other good news is that Joe Baca Jr lost his race for Assembly to a woman named Cheryl Brown.  There will be no Joe Bacas as CA elected officials in 2013. Now if only we could get rid of the Calderons...

      Diehard Swingnut, disgruntled Democrat, age 54, new CA-30

      by Zack from the SFV on Sat Nov 17, 2012 at 09:58:08 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Well (10+ / 0-)

    Although I am overall happy with their decline, I remain glad that Donnally won IN-Sen and Loretta Sanchez remains one of my all time favorite Democrats. Not only did she TWICE defeat one of the most insane Republican right wingers EVER, but she was also known for some of the most suggestive Christmas cards of Congress. And when you read the book she co-wrote with her far more liberal sister, Linda Sanchez (and a ghost writer, I think) you understand her far better.

    Won't miss the likes of Heath Schuler, Leonard Boswell or Larry Kissell though I originally supported them because they were marginally better than Repubs. I also was an early supporter of Brad Ellsworth and not sure if I regret that or not. Again, he was better than his opposition, but not by much.

    Of course Harold Ford, jr. tried to come to my state and run against Senator Gillibrand. My mayor and the head of my local (Brooklyn) Democratic party (the now disgraced Vito Lopez) supported him. But he was slapped down really fast, much to the embarrassment of the likes of Vito Lopez.

    FREEDOM ISN'T FREE: That's why we pay taxes. I Had A Thought

    by mole333 on Sat Nov 17, 2012 at 05:53:23 PM PST

  •  A good lesson for all politicians. (7+ / 0-)

    You can`t have it both ways. Either you are a liberal in a conservative district and take your lumps, or a conservative and reap the benefits. But why would a conservative vote for a "Blue Dog" when they already have a conservative candidate. This cuts both ways. Arlene Spector was what a Red Dog? It didn`t work so great for him, and even though he switched parties he wasn`t really accepted or trusted by Dems. It was at the end of a long career but if he had been younger and tried for another term I`m not so sure he would have made it out of the primaries.

    Politics is like driving.... (D) forward, (R) reverse.

    by Tribecastan on Sat Nov 17, 2012 at 06:00:11 PM PST

  •  Small Consolation If we Reach Grand Austerity (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    defluxion10, Chi

    bargain before they muster out. Seems to me, bargain failure is the thing to hope for till Jan.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sat Nov 17, 2012 at 06:23:44 PM PST

  •  Well, the Blue Dog caucus is no longer really (4+ / 0-)

    South-centric anymore. I wouldn't say they're on their last legs because of other right-leaning areas like Orange County that host Blue Dogs, but it's nice that their influence has diminished.

    Compassion is not weakness, and concern for the unfortunate is not socialism.

    by Zutroy on Sat Nov 17, 2012 at 06:39:27 PM PST

  •  Republican Lite (4+ / 0-)

    was never a popular beer in red districts. If you are a Republican, why pick Lite when you can have the real thing?

  •  Thank You (3+ / 0-)

    I was wondering what went on with them Nov 6th.

    Larry Kissell was my Congresscritter

  •  This is how extreme the Republicans have become (4+ / 0-)

    When we elect more and better democrats, we're usually moving from the center to the left by a few degrees, and the people who vote for them do so because they like their ideas.  When the Republicans who are already right of center try to elect the people they think are "better" they elect people who can't win a statewide election because they're so extreme (see the Senate races in Missouri and Indiana).

    I don't see a downside yet!  

    -7.75, -8.10; All it takes is security in your own civil rights to make you complacent.

    by Dave in Northridge on Sat Nov 17, 2012 at 07:01:10 PM PST

  •  Jim Matheson won (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ladybug53, Zack from the SFV, kurt

    He beat unqualified nitwit and Republican convention speaker Mia Love.

    I hope I'm wrong but I suspect that some older Mormons voted for Matheson because of Love's skin color.

    Matheson's dad, a former Utah governor, died of cancer.  The cancer was probably caused by open air nuclear testing.  So Matheson is going to get some sympathy vote from older Republicans.

  •  There are plenty of conservadems (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Who don't consider themselves Blue Dogs though they vote like them.

    "Given the choice between a Republican and someone who acts like a Republican, people will vote for a real Republican every time." Harry Truman

    by MargaretPOA on Sat Nov 17, 2012 at 07:25:12 PM PST

  •  Only 14 left, out of 54 two years ago (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Great article


    Please stand by. I'm looking for a new sig line.

    by Betty Pinson on Sat Nov 17, 2012 at 09:46:09 PM PST

  •  These people thought that by (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    voting like republicans they'd be able to hold their seats in the next election.  They all got funding from the DNC at the same time.  I really can't feel bad for them.

    The religious fanatics didn't buy the republican party because it was virtuous, they bought it because it was for sale

    by nupstateny on Sat Nov 17, 2012 at 09:47:42 PM PST

    •  I Think That's The Key (0+ / 0-)

      Now that they're gone, the party won't piss away any more money on their seats, and can concentrate on the areas (Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Virginia, upstate New York, northern Wisconsin, central North Carolina) where electing a Democrat means getting a DEMOCRAT.

  •  Well one got shot in the head in Arizona (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    and I know it's not popular here but I liked her. And further one of her office folks got elected in her place so I'd guess that seat stays kind of the way it was. Every time you feel like badmouthing blue dogs just picture Gabby Giffords in your mind.

    Oh, and she was pretty good on a lot of issues too, like immigration and choice and health care.

    Tester won re election and he's a Dem with a buzz cut who farms like the kind of farming where you actually grow stuff and sell it not at farmers markets. Supports shooting things. What's more his Sportsmans Act will be the first piece of legislation out of the senate, passed a cloture vote last week.

    How is the tea party of the left doing lately?

    How big is your personal carbon footprint?

    by ban nock on Sun Nov 18, 2012 at 03:57:01 AM PST

  •  cutting off nose to spite face (0+ / 0-)

    Bill Foster in Illinois-11 was a Blue Dog previously. He won Denny Hastert's old seat (IL-14) against a well known businessman who had Hastert's endorsement. Foster voted on our side of the issues a large majority of the time with a few irritating exceptions.

    He lost in 2010. His opponent, Hultgren, was much worse. Now Hultgren has won re-election and is becoming an entrenched incumbent. This blows. It is nothing to cheer about. IL-14 still would have counted as a vote for Nancy Pelosi for House Speaker.

    A guy who gets it right 85% of the time is better than a guy who gets it right 15% of the time, especially in Denny Hastert's old district.

    Foster ran again this year and won in a different district, IL-11. (There was some overlap between the new 11th and his old 14th.) I am happy about that.

    Foster has moved leftward on issues too. He would claim this as some evolution of personal stance and some advocating ideas and voting to represent the district.

    Boswell was no friend of ours. He was an enemy to our enemy, however. He was also much, much better than Tom Latham. IA-3 can't elect someone that we would love on the issues. They could elect someone who we often like on the issues. Instead they elected someone we strongly dislike on the issues. This blows. It is nothing to cheer about.

    Are you happy to lose Heath Shuler? Well, part of me is too. His votes were often infuriating. I shouldn't be happy though. The NC gerrymandering cost us seats. Shuler was the "more" part of "more and better Democrats".

    The "good riddance" party purity crowd is really shooting themselves in the foot. The problem is that they are shooting me and you in the foot too.

    Blue Dogs in reddish districts make sense. Give us Larry Kissell back. Yes, I know that his votes on ACA and Holder stunk. Most of his votes didn't stink. I'd rather have three quarters of an apple than no apple, which is what we get with Richard Hudson. This isn't Joe Lieberman sitting in a seat that ought to be occupied by Patrick Murphy (or actually by Ned Lamont). This is the about the best we could do in a red district. The odious Ben Chandler was in Kentucky-6, for f&%^'s sake. Happy for his vote for Pelosi. Happy for his vote to repeal Don't-Ask-Don't-Tell. Not trying to win that district and support the candidate that COULD actually win it is politically ridiculous.

    Blue Dogs in blue districts, much less so. Happy to see Joe Lieberman go. Same for Joe Baca.

    The plural of anecdote is not data.

    by Skipbidder on Sun Nov 18, 2012 at 06:33:02 AM PST

    •  Foster And Hultgren (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      The Democrats controlled all the levers of redistricting in Illinois, and produced a map which turned an 11-8 Republican majority into a 12-6 majority for the Democrats. Thank you, Speaker Madigan.

      The way you do that is to draw five heavily Republican "sink" districts, fencing in the most Republican areas, and one close district, the 13th, which went Republican by a very narrow margin. One of the five heavily Republican districts was won by Hultgren, so it's not like he's holding a district that would otherwise have gone Democratic. He was drawn into a district which also contained the home of Joe Walsh, but Walsh decided to run in the 8th, and got clobbered by Tammy Duckworth.

      In writing this diary, I relied upon the Blue Dog article at Wikipedia. It lists the members defeated in 2010, and Foster is not among them. I had thought he was a Blue Dog, too, and maybe he was, and the article overlooked him. He previously represented the area in which I grew up and went to university, and from what I know of him I think it's fair to call him a "blue dog" even if he never joined the Caucus.

      Nothing in my diary indicated happiness or unhappiness with this result. I simply noted that they have been reduced, in two short years, from 54 members to 14, and that there are only three remaining from the nine Confederate states, not including Texas and Florida. But I think it would have been nightmarish for Mrs. Pelosi to have had, say a 222-213 "majority" in which she had to rely upon the likes of Shuler, Kissell, Boswell, Jim Cooper, Henry Cuellar, Dan Boren, Jason Altimre, Tim Holden, and Jim Matheson to pass bills. There's some wisdom in the old saying "in unity is strength".

      •  maybe a member, maybe not? (0+ / 0-)

        Better a majority including part-time defectors than a minority, I think. I guess that's the bottom line. I understand the idea that there is some place to draw the line where you can't abide Liebermen in the party. I think most would agree that this line gets drawn in different places in different districts.

        I've just become pretty irritated by recent party purity diaries that have suggested things like primarying Dick Durbin or that we shouldn't have supported Bob Kerrey in Nebraska.

        The Blue dogs didn't always defect on the same thing, so you don't need them all on every vote. When you get to non-economic issues, you'll get more of them voting liberally.

        I think that the existence of Blue Dogs helps hold the line against the further shift to the right of American politics. This bit is just speculation on my part, though.

        There is also the hope (perhaps a Charlie Brown and the football type hope) that we could actually have some effective whipping and coordination to allow for political cover for the most vulnerable members.

        Foster's Wikipedia page lists him as a Blue Dog Coalition member in 111. For some reason, I can't get the Blue Dog Wiki page to load right now, so I can't see what they have to say about it. (I've been trying for over minutes now.)

        Foster's own website doesn't admit to official Blue-Dogginess, but says this, which isn't so thrilling:

        Bill Foster believes that restoring fiscal balance to the federal government is fundamental to the long-term health of our economy. So, Bill voted against his party’s budget every time it has come up because it did not offer an adequate plan to begin paying down our national debt. As the co-chair of the Fiscal Responsibility working group of the New Democrats – a centrist, pro-business group of 70 members of Congress – Bill Foster has been a leader in insisting that the federal government get its’ budget under control.
        The official Blue Dog site doesn't list historical members, so it is of no use.

        It is pretty hard to actually find out whether or not he was a member, for some reason. Random unsourced blogs variously list him as a member or alternatively as a conservadem who never actually joined the Caucus but voted with them.

        Perhaps he never "officially" joined.

        Maybe it was too much to ask that we had a shot in the new IL-14. We'd have to have some sort of irritating Blue Dog to have any shot, however. Previous-incarnation Bill Foster or Melissa Bean or somesuch. Hultgren only got 51.3% when he beat Foster in a stacked district. Maybe that was too big of a margin to overcome, and more support for Foster than wouldn't have mattered. From now on, it certainly seems unlikely to flip back to D.

        My comment keeps getting longer as I try to wait for Wiki Blue Dog page. I think I'll just submit it now.

        The plural of anecdote is not data.

        by Skipbidder on Sun Nov 18, 2012 at 02:09:08 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  What's Wrong With Primarying Durbin? (0+ / 0-)

              I know of no one who plans to do so. But Durbin is a corporate Democrat. He served on the Simpson-Bowles Commission and voted for the final proposal. Jan Schakowsky voted against it. Even Max Baucus voted against it.

               He's Paul Simon's protege, but he acts more like Alan Dixon. Why shouldn't progressives in Illinois work within the party to get somebody better? The primary is the only chance we get every six years to approve or disapprove.

          •  maybe I've got blinders regarding Durbin (0+ / 0-)

            Recent diarist was recommending primarying him because of Simpson-Bowles. I didn't like Simpson-Bowles. But he did what he was asked to do, which was come up with a proposal that was a bipartisan compromise where everyone had skin in the game. I reject that this is what we should have done then and reject it even more now. The fact that he supported it coming out of the special commission doesn't mean he would support it now.

            Schakowsky was my representative then. She's doing a fine job, but if we hold out for that level of liberal purity, then we're going to have 80 Representatives and 5 Senators.

            This is a state that elected Mark Kirk to the Senate.

            Paul Simon retired before I moved to Illinois, but I certainly appreciated his work. He wasn't perfect either. He supported a Value Added Tax.

            It's hard to find too many current Senators that are more liberal than Durbin. Gets tough at somewhere between 5 and 10. He's more liberal than Obama.

            Apart from Simpson-Bowles, which I'll grant you is certainly a strike against, are there other issues you think Durbin has wrong? You suggest he's wrong on corporate issues. He has a 100% rating from Center for Tax Justice. 85% AFL-CIO. 86% UFCW.

            The plural of anecdote is not data.

            by Skipbidder on Sun Nov 18, 2012 at 05:21:42 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

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