Following the 2008 election, political pundits gave heavy credence to a coalition of Blue Dog Democrats – the occasionally conservative Democrats who were elected in traditionally Republican districts – and their projected influence on keeping legislation from going too far off course.
Voters, however, quickly learned that most of the Blue Dogs toed the party line and voted with liberal House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
Two years later – after having cast deciding votes on controversial issues ranging from Wall Street “reform” to the abortion-laden government takeover of health care – the 54-member House and Senate coalition is definitely experiencing election-time blues.
Senior coalition member Rep. Jim Cooper of Tennessee said the group could lose up to half of its membership on Nov. 2.
“We don’t know what the leadership positions will be like,” Cooper said, “because we don’t know the outcome of the election.”
Six of the Blue Dogs have already announced their retirement plans or intentions of seeking another office. Of the 48 remaining, 39 are in very tough races. Pollsters are predicting that nearly half will not be re-elected on Nov. 2.
Twenty-eight members voted for President Obama’s health care law, which will usher in the largest publicly funded expansion of abortion since Roe v. Wade.
When analyzing their votes on 14 key pieces of legislation in light of how Pelosi voted, 27 of the 28 voted with the Speaker more than 70 percent of the time. And, as the following list shows, most are in a tough re-election battle:
- Rep. Mike Arcuri of New York – 86 percent (Race is a Tossup)
- Rep. Joe Baca of California – 93 percent (Safe)
- Rep. Marion Berry of Arizona – 77 percent (Retired)
- Rep. Sanford Bishop of Georgia – 93 percent (Race is a Tossup)
- Rep. Leonard Boswell of Iowa – 100 percent (Race is a Tossup)
- Rep. Dennis Cardoza of California – 86 percent (Leans Democrat)
- Rep. Christopher Carney of Pennsylvania –79 percent (Leans Republican)
- Rep. Jim Cooper of Tennessee –71 percent (Likely Democrat)
- Rep. Jim Costa of California – 86 percent (Leans Republican)
- Rep. Henry Cuellar of Texas – 93 percent (Safe)
- Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper of Pennsylvania – 77 percent (Leans Republican)
- Rep. Joe Donnelly of Indiana – 71 percent (Leans Democrat)
- Rep. Brad Ellsworth of Indiana – 79 percent (Will likely lose Senate bid)
- Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona – 86 percent (Race is a Tossup)
- Rep. Jane Harman of California – 93 percent (Safe)
- Rep. Baron Hill of Indiana – 86 percent (Race is a Tossup)
- Rep. Mike Michaud of Maine – 86 percent (Leans Democrat)
- Rep. Harry Mitchell of Arizona – 64 percent (Leans Republican)
- Rep. Dennis Moore of Kansas – 100 percent (Retired; Wife running, not likely to win)
- Rep. Patrick Murphy of Pennsylvania – 93 percent (Leans Republican)
- Rep. Earl Pomeroy of North Dakota – 86 percent (Leans Republican)
- Rep. John Salazar of Colorado – 79 percent (Race is a Tossup)
- Rep. Loretta Sanchez of California – 100 percent (Leans Democrat)
- Rep. Adam Schiff of California – 100 percent (Safe)
- Rep. David Scott of Georgia – 100 percent (Safe)
- Rep. Zack Space of Ohio – 71 percent (Race is a Tossup)
- Rep. Mike Thompson of California – 100 percent (Safe)
- Rep. Charles Wilson of Ohio – 86 percent (Race is a Tossup)
Interestingly, the six “safest” Blue Dogs voted against Obamacare – among other controversial bills:
- Rep. Dan Boren of Oklahoma –Ranked 5th most conservative Democrat by National Journal. (Leans Democrat)
- Rep. Gene Taylor of Mississippi – Known to repeatedly buck Pelosi on major votes. Voted against her for Speaker. (Race is a Tossup)
- Rep. Mike Ross of Arkansas – Among the most vocal members. (Likely Democrat)
- Rep. Mike McIntryre of North Carolina – Sixth most conservative Democrat. (Leans Democrat)
- Rep. John Barrow of Georgia (Likely Democrat)
- Rep. Jim Matheson of Utah (Likely Democrat)
Ashley Horne, federal issues analyst for CitizenLink, said that the trouble that Democrats are facing right now is as it should be.
“People remember the bad positions these lawmakers took on important issues like health care, and they’re responding accordingly,” Horne said. “It’s citizen activism at work.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Review the Blue Dog membership list.