Monday, February 7, 2011

Burned Your Bridges? Ford the River

Heath Shuler (D-NC) is in the news today complaining that Blue Dogs have 'no communication' with the Democratic leadership in the House. In essence, Blue Dogs are theoretically frozen out of the strategizing and planning process for the minority party. Blue Dog house members notoriously delayed the stimulus project and loaded pork pet projects into major bills last Congress, and a half of them lost their seats in November's election. They fared far worse than other Democrats in the election.

Of course, Shuler's complaint isn't exactly true:
A Democratic source also pointed to efforts by Pelosi and the party leadership to give centrists in the House greater access to the levers of power. Shuler and several other Blue Dogs were named to the Steering Committee, and members of the coalition were given larger roles in leadership. (Rep. Jim Matheson (D-Utah) was named a chief deputy whip, and Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) was given responsibility for messaging on the budget.)

Pelosi's also had personal conversations, over the phone or in-person, with 15 of the 26 members of the Blue Dog bloc during the recent congressional break, per that Democratic source. There's also regular contact between Pelosi and other leadership staff and members of the Blue Dog staff.
You would think that his complaint would have merit; after all, Shuler attempted to dislodge Nancy Pelosi as the minority leader in December, gaining a few dozen votes, mostly from blue dog and conservative Democrats.

After burning a major bridge with the leadership in challenging Pelosi, Shuler is out in the cold, but the Blue Dogs aren't. Let's just hope that if Shuler does try to get across the river by fording, he will lose an oxen. It already looks like the leadership has been poaching some of his travelling party.

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