View to Washington: Blue Dog Effect
BY Kerry Eleveld
August 03 2009 12:00 AM ET
This month we have seen the muscle of the "Blue Dog" Democrats, who in my opinion all but rendered House Republicans irrelevant in the health care debate by performing what normally would have been the job of the GOP -- working to moderate the bill.
That got me thinking: If the Blue Dogs effectively bottled up the health reform bill in the House, what influence, if any, might they be having on LGBT rights? On the one hand, you have someone like Rep. Patrick Murphy from Pennsylvania, who has stepped up as the lead on repealing "don't ask, don't tell," but on the other hand there's Rep. Heath Shuler, a pro-gun, anti-abortion, anti-equality Democrat from North Carolina.
First, a little background -- the Blue Dogs are a group of 52 fiscally conservative House Democrats who were recruited by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to run for office, in many cases, in traditionally Republican districts. For instance, 35 members of the coalition hailed from districts that voted for Sen. John McCain in 2008, according to Michael Barone of the Washington Examiner .
Rahm Emanuel, who headed the DCCC in the 2006 midterms and was a chief adviser in 2008, focused heavily in this area, which in large part led to the Democrats dominating the House with 256 seats this Congress. Of course, that also makes the Dogs an instrumental part of the caucus since without them, Democrats fall short of the 218 votes it takes to pass a bill.