Some Blue Dogs are Nervous (and should be)

by: tremayne

Wed Aug 05, 2009 at 22:57


In a political environment where Democrats control 60% of the Senate, 59% of the House and won the White House with 68% of the electoral college, some (believe it or not) conservative Democrats show signs of moving left. Some states that used to be considered "battleground" states really aren't anymore and some districts once purple are now undeniably blue. While some of this may be a temporary phenomenon due to revulsion at the couldn't-govern-anything-right Bush regime some of it is driven by demographic trends that continue to shrink the GOP base.

If the left wing of the Democratic party can actually stick together and refuse to budge, it's the moderate senators and representatives (both red and blue) who will begin to crack in the leftward direction. It's already happening.

Democrats have 257 seats in the House and need 218 to pass bills. The blue dog coalition in the House has 52 members according to Wikipedia (some below may now be "New Democrats", a different kind of moderate). That's enough, if they all vote against a robust public option, to kill it. But they won't all vote against it because they want to keep their jobs. Take a look:

                BLUE DOGS IN STRONG OBAMA DISTRICTS

Blue Dog District Obama margin Position on Public Option Comment
David Scott GA-13 +45 Opposed (Edit: "Medicare-like") public option but now supports some kind of P.O. Your district went for Obama 72% to 27% and you would vote against his bill if it has a robust public option? I dare you. Rahm, who gave you money, should dare you.
Joe Baca CA-43 +38 Supports robust public option Not insane
Adam Schiff CA-29 +37 Supports robust public option Not a complete moron
Mike Thompson CA-01 +34 Says here he supports P.O. Likes his job
Jane Harmon CA-36 +30 Supports public option Supported wiretapping until they tapped hers
Loretta Sanchez CA-47 +22 Converted to P.O. support See her statement here.
Dennis Cardoza CA-18 +20 ??
SFgate.com: "has more uninsured citizens in his district than any district in the nation." He's not going to vote "no" unless he's retiring.
Jim Cooper TN-05 +13 Opposes Medicare-like public option but also says he supports public option w/o trigger
Position has "evolved."
Melissa Bean IL-08 +13 On the fence.
Aren't there IL people in the WH who can pressure her?
Henry Cuellar TX-28 +12 ?? Won his 2006 primary with just 52%. Needs to be reminded how blue his district is now and that making kissy face with GWB is a bad idea.
Mike Michaud ME-02 +12 Like Jim Cooper he's FOR it and AGAINST a Medicare-like P.O. Can literally tell some constituents "I joined a group opposing this" and other constituents "I joined a group supporting it!" Genius. Or idiocy.
Leonard Boswell IA-03 +9 Another one who's been FOR it and AGAINST it See Michaud above. And this.
John Barrow GA-12 +9 Opposed to public option (edit: may have changed)
Thinks being in GA immunizes him
Sanford Bishop GA-02 +9 Edit: didn't like plan intiially but now listed as a supporter.
Psst: your district has gotten bluer.
Joe Donnelly IN-02 +9 ?? Watch him dodge the question here.
Patrick Murphy PA-08 +9 Supports public option without trigger
Statement.

More on this inside.

tremayne :: Some Blue Dogs are Nervous (and should be)

It was the Blue Dogs who, just last week, won concessions on the House bill being written. But, I would argue, there's little need for much compromise at this point. The majority of the Blue-Dogs-in-Strong-Obama-districts already support a public option without triggers (see the chart above). They're doing so in many cases not because of their principles but because it's politically expedient. And it is. Some who have yet to come off the fence will be hard-pressed to vote "no" if their colleagues point out how vulnerable they'll be if they shoot down the President's top priority. Nancy Pelosi says she has the votes for reform with a public plan and I think she does. 

And everyone assumes that all Republicans will vote no. They did on the stimulus bill. But we shouldn't just assume it. If the situation were reversed, Republicans would be looking for Democrats in red/prurple districts they could pick off. There are Republicans in districts that went for Obama who will have a hard time explaining to their constituents why they voted "no." Don't negotiate with them but don't just assume they won't ditch their leadership to save their seats. We strengthen the opposition by crediting them votes that haven't yet been taken.

The same principle applies in the Senate. Obama won Maine by 17 points over McCain. Yes, Senators Snowe and Collins have been popular. But 17 points! There's a reason they break with their party and that's it. Obama won in PA by 11 points. Sen. Specter had a Toomey problem he probably couldn't overcome but he also had a being-a-Republican problem. Since Joe Sestak started making noise about running Specter has been voting very Democratic.

With 60 Democratic seats, the two Maine Senators (and maybe even 1 or 2 other vulnerable Republicans) I don't see what the problem is. Forget about Max Baucus.

Put the best bill together and put it up for a vote. If the Republicans/Blue Dogs can muster the votes to kill it, some of them will pay on election day. Time to stop operating out of fear and let the other side sweat it out.


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I move to second... (4.00 / 7)
Put the best bill together and put it up for a vote. If the Republicans/Blue Dogs can muster the votes to kill it, some of them will pay on election day. Time to stop operating out of fear and let the other side sweat it out.

It's time to start acting like the majority party and start advancing the agenda rather than reacting to the minority party.  

If teaching is so easy, then by all means get your degree, pass your certification test(s), get your license, and see if you can last longer than the five years in the classroom 50% of those who enter the profession never make it to.


Exactly (4.00 / 3)
It's time to stop buying into that "we're still a center-right nation" bullshit. I know they want to keep using that as an excuse to be corporate lackeys, but if the Progressive Caucus will stand strong and not cave in to pressure, they may have to start learning to dance to a different tune for a change.

And goddess forbid we should ever get real campaign finance reform and Clean Money elections. We might actually start getting rid of some the elected representatives who don't give a shit about real service, but are only in it for the money and perks.


[ Parent ]
Is Murphy really a Blue Dog? (4.00 / 1)
Everything I hear about the guy makes him sound at least halfway progressive.  

self identified as one (4.00 / 1)
he's young if that's "progressive." He one of many who would like to have it both ways.  

[ Parent ]
Very bad in the clutch (0.00 / 0)
Patrick Murphy's score on crucial votes places him in the bottom 20 among Democrats or thereabouts.  Admittedly freshman are not yet counted but this is a terrible score.  Murphy disguises it by being a good vote the rest of the time.  he sinks over 30 points from overall to crucial, also one of the worst records in the House.

When it counts, Patrick Murphy really is a Blue Dog.


[ Parent ]
I'd love to get rid of Cooper... (4.00 / 1)
He singlehandedly destroyed Clinton's health care reform efforts and now, he's doing it again!

He's a tough one to beat, though...  been in congress forever... even survived the 1994 purge that he helped instigate...

REID: Voting against us was never part of our arrangement!
SPECTER: I am altering the deal! Pray I don't alter it any further!
REID: This deal keeps getting worse all the time!


Scott (0.00 / 0)
You have it exactly right about David Scott. He absolutely knows better than to vote against a bill that comes up on the floor. Hopefully I can get out to his Healthcare thing on the 15th to see what he has to say. He always seems to have the Bluedog like things to say but at the end of the day votes the right way.  

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