Wednesday, November 15, 2006

What is a Blue Dog Democrat?

It’s a term you should become familiar with. The Blue Dog Caucus was formed in 1996 and represents a group of Democrats who are moderate to conservative on social and economic issues. Currently their membership is at 36 and is guaranteed to rise after the current election.

According to Wikipedia:

The Blue Dogs' moderate agenda in Congress has angered many in the Democratic party, as it often leads to them voting with the more conservative Republicans. In 2005, the members of the Blue Dog Coalition voted 32 to 3 in favor of the bill to limit access to bankruptcy protection (S 256). Congressman Collin Peterson was subjected to a heated round of questioning from colleagues in the Democratic Party over several votes where he strayed from the party line before being nominated as the Ranking Member on the U.S. House Committee on Agriculture, in what would otherwise have been a routine nomination.

One of its members, Jane Harman, is currently the recipient of a Nancy Pelosi hissy fit and will apparently not be allowed to chair the Intelligence Committee because of her stances that generally align with the rest of the Blue Dogs.

Another of member of the coalition, Dennis Cardoza, features prominently in a Los Angeles Times article about the battle between Jack Murtha and Steny Hoyer:

"Everywhere you go on Capitol Hill today, this is the topic of conversation," said Rep. Dennis Cardoza (D-Atwater), who supports Hoyer. "It would have been easier for some of us not to have to exercise our independence quite so early."
Pelosi may have another problem. As the crop of freshly elected Democrats — including many younger ones who campaigned to the right of the party line — came to Capitol Hill for orientation Monday, they encountered a leadership dominated by mostly liberal, old-school Democrats.

Cardoza, a leader of the conservative coalition in the House known as the Blue Dogs, warned that Democratic cohesion would suffer if the liberals in line to head many of the chamber's key committees don't take party moderates into account. "We have to try to build a consensus, and it's not going to be an automatic, top-down way, or we'll have conflict on the floor," Cardoza said.
This sounds like a shot across the bow over Harman, and there is guaranteed to be some amount of conflict if she is passed over for Alcee Hastings.

It will be very interesting to see which freshmen and women join this group. It will also be interesting as this group, along with the Republicans hold a large enough majority that they could defy Pelosi very easily if they thought they needed to. Especially since Pelosi seems to be alienating them.

We’ll see what happens. The majority whip will need to be very effective to keep all Democrats in step with Pelosi’s agenda.

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