Last week the Blue Dog coalition, a group of supposedly moderate Democrats in the House of Representatives, announced that they were endorsing three Democrat candidates this cycle, among them North Dakota’s Pam Gulleson.
Gulleson’s Democrat predecessor in North Dakota’s at-large seat, Earl Pomeroy, was also a member of the Blue Dog coalition. But Pomeroy was also a member of a class of Blue Dogs that got decimated in the 2010 elections.
In 2009 the Blue Dog coalition numbered 54. After the 2010 cycle, exactly half of the Blue Dogs had lost their seats either to retirement of defeat at the polls. Two more Blue Dogs have since stepped down from the coalition – Rep. Jane Harman and Rep. Gabrielle Giffords – and four more – Dan Boren, Dennis Cardoza, Mike Ross and Heath Shuler – have announced their retirements at the end of their current term.
Rep. Joe Donnelly is leaving the House to run for the Senate, and Representatives Altmire and Holden have lost in primary competitions to more liberal Democrats.
That leaves the total number of Blue Dogs left standing, one cycle removed from their 2009 peak of 54, at 18. And political analysis Jim Ellis notes that the bleeding for Blue Dogs isn’t likely to end there, noting that many of the remaining Blues face tough re-elections and none of the new blood they’ve endorsed (including Gulleson) are likely to win:
An additional eight members face highly competitive re-election fights. For Reps. Joe Baca (D-CA-43), John Barrow (D-GA-12), Leonard Boswell (D-IA-3), Ben Chandler (D-KY-6), Larry Kissell (D-NC-8), Jim Matheson (D-UT-2), Mike McIntyre (D-NC-7) and Mike Michaud (D-ME-2) either renomination or re-election is no certainty.
Furthermore, of the 11 candidates the Blue Dog Coalition has so far endorsed, none, today, are favored to win their elections. They are:
AR-4: Clark Hall (D) vs. R nominee – Underdog
FL-2: Leonard Bembry (D) vs. Rep. Steve Southerland (R) – Underdog
IN-2: Brendan Mullen (D) vs. Jackie Walorski (R) – Underdog
IN-8: Dave Crooks (D) vs. Rep. Larry Bucshon (R) — Underdog
MI-1: Gary McDowell (D) vs. Rep. Dan Benishek (R) – Toss-up
NC-11: Hayden Rogers (D) vs. R nominee – Underdog
ND-AL: Pam Gulleson (D) vs. R nominee – Underdog
OH-6: Former Rep. Charlie Wilson (D) vs. Rep. Bill Johnson (R) – Toss-up
OK-2: Rob Wallace (D) vs. R nominee – Underdog
SC-7: Ted Vick (D) vs. R nominee – Underdog
TX-14: Former Rep. Nick Lampson (D) vs. R nominee – Toss-up (at best)
With eight of its members in tough races and no guaranteed winners among the 11 candidates the coalition has officially endorsed, it appears that the Blue Dogs are headed for another difficult political year.
The problem with the Blue Dogs is that it was all a charade, one that was exposed both by changes in the media. Blogging and social media allow a greater degree of scrutiny on politicians, which has been tough on politicians who like to don the mantle of the moderate even while having a something less-than-moderate voting record. But the Democrat party’s move to the far left under Obama has also hurt Democrats as well.
Pam Gulleson hopes to be able to do the same Blue Dog song and dance that Pomeroy perfected for years, but she doesn’t yet realize that the music for that charade is over.