BREAKING NEWS : Fort Wayne police block Jefferson Pointe entrances amid protest rumors Full Story

'Blue Dog Democrats' hope to double size in House

Article Image

As Congress braces for the midterm elections, "Blue Dogs" -- a nickname for the most moderate Democrats on C...

Posted: Nov 5, 2018 5:08 PM

As Congress braces for the midterm elections, "Blue Dogs" -- a nickname for the most moderate Democrats on Capitol Hill -- are hoping to make a comeback.

The partisan gap in Congress has widened as Blue Dogs' membership has been whittled down to its current 18-member standing, but ahead of Election Day, the Blue Dog PAC has endorsed more than 20 congressional candidates it hopes to add to its ranks.

While some Democrats are finding success in leaning into using their campaigns as a referendum on President Donald Trump, Oregon Democratic Rep. Kurt Schrader, who serves as the chief candidate recruiter for the coalition, said that that strategy doesn't work for districts with prospective Blue Dogs.

"We're trying to recruit candidates that can get us into the majority. And there's an understanding, for the first time in 10 years, that the path to the majority is through the Blue Dog-type districts we need to win," Schrader told CNN. "There are no more liberal districts to win. And that requires a candidate that can relate to the red in their state, not just the blue."

Blue Dogs' push to elect more moderates to Congress bucks the current trend associated with midterm elections -- that each party is working to energize their voters with candidates appealing to their base. On the left, there are some high-profile liberals running who could also help shape a possible Democratic majority, including New York Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts. These potential members could find themselves at odds with Blue Dogs -- particularly on issues like defense and federal spending. Still, it's unclear where these new members will fall on the issue of potentially selecting House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi as House speaker should Democrats retake the chamber.

Supporters of the Blue Dogs have argued they could be the key deciding group determining what legislation comes up to the House floor for a vote if Democrats obtain the chamber's majority.

Kristin Hawn, a Democratic strategist working with the Blue Dog PAC, said she expects that if Democrats do win, the dynamic between party members will be different than it was when Democrats led by large majorities.

"Having a slim majority will be very different from a 30-something seat majority in the House. It's not something I've ever lived through personally, but it'll be really interesting. It'll be good for the country ... how the House is run, because you have to have people actually come together," Hawn told CNN. "Suddenly, the Freedom Caucus -- they don't have the balance of power anymore."

Schrader said one issue is that even in his district the President's popularity has only increased since the 2016 election.

"They've been able to localize the race, not take on Donald Trump, not take on you know -- well, not take on Donald Trump, frankly," Schrader said about the candidates the PAC has endorsed.

Instead, Schrader has encouraged candidates to come out against Pelosi, who plans to run for the House speakership should Democrats take control of the House.

"You know, I told all our candidates at the beginning of this year that you don't want to be coming out against Donald Trump. Let's not run against him," he said. "You want to come out against Nancy Pelosi because you are running against her. That'll be the first question you'll get asked. If you don't answer that question right, you won't have an opportunity to talk about anything else. They'll just write you off."

Pelosi's office did not respond to CNN's request for comment on Schrader's push, but Pelosi has previously said she is not offended by Democrats who oppose her leadership.

"I'm OK. Just win, baby," Pelosi said in May. "I think many of them are saying we need ... new leadership, yeah. I don't take offense at that."

More recently, Pelosi has billed herself as a "transitional" speaker who would bridge the current generation to the next, though that exact timeline has not been specified.

Still, Pelosi is a heavy favorite to win the speakership, and if Democrats win by a big majority, she may not even need some of these candidates to get to 218 votes. She also has leverage in her corner to help sway some of these candidates to support her in the end, such as committee assignments and PAC money.

Of 26 Democrats in toss-up races, 11 have said they would oppose Pelosi as speaker, while an additional 19 Democrats who are in districts that lean Democratic or are solidly in their party's favor said they would oppose her, according to a CNN tally. Those numbers grow among Democrats in districts that lean Republican.

Salt Lake County mayor Ben McAdams, a Blue Dog-endorsed candidate attempting to unseat Utah Republican Rep. Mia Love, is among the majority Blue Dog PAC-endorsed candidates opposing Pelosi's speakership run.

And though Trump's favorability polling is "under water" in his district, McAdams said he's chosen not to focus on the President during his campaign.

"I've made a conscious decision in this race -- I think my candidacy is about my reputation as the mayor of Salt Lake County, somebody who works across party lines and gets stuff done by bringing together Republicans and Democrats," he said. "And that's the campaign I've tried to run. I don't think that message blends very well with an anti-anything message."

McAdams also said that if he wins, he hopes to work with Republicans on a transportation infrastructure package and on a fix to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, a policy Trump has sought to end but has been in legal limbo for months.

Schrader said that during the last Democratic majority, he felt that Blue Dogs "were shunned."

He said he anticipates that "it's going to be tough negotiating out what legislation we put forward and how we word it."

But compared to the last time Democrats had a majority, "fast forward to 10 years later and suddenly my progressive colleagues are like 'Well I don't agree with a number of your votes but you sound honest and you're representing your district,'" he said.

As for how Trump will work with a Democratic majority -- Schrader isn't so concerned. He said he thinks the President is "a pliable guy."

"I think he'd be fine. The President, he's totally amoral. He has no values. He'd be easy to work with," he said. "Whatever we decide, he'd get in front of at the end of the day and make sure everyone knew it was his idea. I think we're in good shape."

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 34830

Reported Deaths: 2143
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion9900581
Lake3639190
Allen166269
Cass15877
Elkhart132228
St. Joseph128634
Hendricks117171
Hamilton116293
Johnson1115109
Madison59359
Porter54328
Bartholomew51535
Clark50541
LaPorte43824
Howard41528
Tippecanoe4143
Jackson3921
Delaware38539
Shelby37322
Hancock34027
Floyd31839
Boone31535
Vanderburgh2822
Morgan28024
Montgomery24517
Noble23721
White2378
Clinton2331
Decatur22431
Grant21323
Dubois1993
Harrison19422
Henry18411
Greene16925
Vigo1698
Dearborn16821
Warrick16628
Monroe16612
Lawrence16524
Kosciusko1501
Miami1401
Putnam1377
Jennings1304
Orange13022
Scott1203
Marshall1112
Franklin1108
Ripley1096
Carroll932
Daviess9216
Wayne855
LaGrange842
Steuben842
Wabash792
Fayette787
Newton7810
Jasper681
Jay530
Washington521
Clay511
Fulton491
Randolph483
Rush472
Pulaski460
Jefferson451
Whitley433
Starke393
DeKalb371
Sullivan361
Owen351
Perry330
Brown331
Wells320
Benton310
Huntington282
Knox280
Blackford262
Tipton251
Crawford240
Fountain212
Switzerland200
Spencer201
Parke180
Gibson172
Adams171
Posey160
Ohio130
Warren121
Martin110
Vermillion100
Union90
Pike60
Unassigned0167

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 35984

Reported Deaths: 2207
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin5933271
Cuyahoga4508241
Hamilton2698151
Marion266828
Lucas2277248
Pickaway208637
Summit1453176
Mahoning1438178
Butler90931
Columbiana87552
Stark73692
Lorain69259
Montgomery68416
Trumbull58250
Belmont43513
Warren37821
Miami35830
Tuscarawas3493
Medina34624
Ashtabula34035
Delaware33713
Portage32757
Lake30913
Clark2956
Wood29547
Geauga28632
Fairfield2806
Wayne27750
Licking24910
Mercer2167
Clermont2135
Allen21233
Richland2013
Erie17514
Darke17422
Madison1557
Washington11819
Crawford1154
Morrow1071
Ottawa10316
Greene1035
Putnam9314
Sandusky8111
Monroe7914
Ross722
Auglaize723
Hocking695
Jefferson672
Hardin610
Huron601
Williams551
Muskingum520
Union521
Hancock501
Fulton440
Clinton431
Shelby433
Holmes431
Wyandot422
Coshocton400
Fayette400
Logan390
Preble391
Guernsey361
Defiance342
Carroll313
Lawrence300
Brown291
Champaign281
Highland251
Knox251
Vinton212
Seneca202
Ashland200
Scioto180
Perry181
Athens181
Henry160
Jackson140
Paulding140
Adams101
Harrison100
Gallia81
Pike80
Meigs60
Noble60
Van Wert60
Morgan50
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Clear
91° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 94°
Angola
Clear
88° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 90°
Huntington
Clear
88° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 88°
Decatur
Clear
90° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 90°
Van Wert
Clear
90° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 90°
Scattered Storms Wednesday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events