Skip to comments.Meet the Blue Dogs: pro-gun, anti-abortion - and Democrat
Posted on 11/08/2006 3:48:50 PM PST by MadIvan
Our correspondent examines how the party masterminded its move to the centre and reined in liberals to seize hostile territories
They wear cowboy boots, chew tobacco, love hunting, hate abortion, want less government spending and some voted for Ronald Reagan. Now they are headed to Congress as Democrats.
Although the Democrats victory was above all an overwhelming repudiation of the conflict in Iraq, it was also built on the back of moderate, often conservative candidates recruited to compete in traditionally Republican territory.
When Congress returns in January, both the House and Senate will see something of an ideological shift, with an influx of freshmen Democrats who, while unified in their opposition to the war, are well to the right of the partys current caucus on cultural issues.
Their success reflects a resurgence of Blue Dog Democrats socially conservative but generally economic populists across the Midwest, and a bold new strategy to target the Republican-leaning West and South West states such as Colorado, Wyoming and New Mexico as a way of winning back the White House in 2008.
If Jon Tester, the Democrats Senate candidate in Montana, wins his race against Conrad Burns he declared victory last night but votes were still being counted the chamber will have a Democrat who is an anti-abortion, pro-gun, three-generation farmer with a buzz cut, three missing fingers on his left hand and no big fan of Hillary Clinton.
Jim Webb, the Democrat favoured to win a probable recount in the Virginia Senate race, was Reagans Navy Secretary. A social conservative, he hates liberals and likes guns so much he gave one to his son at the age of 8. He champions, as he puts it, Southern redneck culture. A decorated Vietnam veteran, he converted to the Democrats only over his opposition to the Iraq war.
Bob Casey, who soundly defeated the Republican Rick Santorum in Pennsylvanias Senate race, is also anti-abortion. Like many of the new Democrats, he ran a profoundly populist protectionist economic message which attracted many blue-collar Reagan Democrats back to the party in the Midwest, where job losses and economic pessimism combined with Iraq to make the region one of the bleakest landscapes for Republicans yesterday.
Heath Shuler, a former quarterback for the Washington Redskins, was once courted by the Republicans as a possible congressional candidate. He is anti-abortion, pro-gun, anti-free trade and is now the Democrat representative for the North Carolina 11th District.
In Indiana, a state overwhelmingly won by President Bush in 2004, three Republicans in the House of Representatives lost seats. All faced conservative Democrats. One, Brad Ellsworth, a county sheriff, is a social conservative who signed a no-tax-rise pledge during the campaign. Joe Donnelly was another cultural conservative winner in Indiana.
In Colorado, Democrats continued their push into the West with victory in the states gubernatorial contest, meaning the party now has a sweep of western governors stretching from Canada to Mexico, through Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico.
In Kentucky, John Yarmuth, a former Republican candidate running as a Democrat, beat Anne Northup, a five-term veteran. Democrats also picked up an open seat in Republican Arizona and even unseated a Republican incumbent in Kansas where Mr Bush won
62 per cent of the vote in 2004.
These new Democrats represent what Rahm Emanuel, the congressman who masterminded its takeover of the House, described as the future of the party, and the key to its presidential hopes. The growing belief of many Democrat strategists is that the South the partys base until the 1960s, but now solidly Republican is beyond their reach, and that the future lies in targeting the Midwest and West with moderate candidates. That theory was bolstered by the defeat in Tennessee of Harold Ford. Despite running as a conservative on nearly every issue even immigration the black former congressman could not prevail in the one Southern senate seat in play.
The result was rich vindication for Mr Emanuel and other top Democrats who have spent two years recruiting candidates to make the party competitive in western states they had all but ceded in recent years.
Mr Emanuel and other centrists have told the incoming Democrat leadership which is far more liberal than the new influx of moderates that the partys liberal wing must not dominate the agenda. The new crop of moderates will be anxious to keep the party rooted to the middle ground.
Their arrival on Capitol Hill will be one of the first early tests of the leadership skills of Nancy Pelosi who, as House Speaker, will have to forge a coalition in a party that has profound philosophical disparities.
Ironically, the greatest losses for Republicans came in the North East, the last redoubt of the partys mainstream moderates. They were routed.
If President Bush wants to stick it to these phonies, he should practice an aggressive divide and conquer policy - force these "Blue Dogs" to choose between party and their supposed principles time and again. Either the moonbats will go mad, fracturing the party - or the "Blue Dogs" will be exposed as the brie-eating, Chardonnay swilling socialist fakes they are.
Pouring crap into cowboy boots, Wranglers and a denim shirt does not make it a cowboy. Sorry.
This only proves that the nation is still very much a conservative country. I think that the author makes a good point--the so-called moderate Republicans were hypocrites and disgusted voters to the point of throwing them out.
You might be under the impression I don't like Democrats. Given the fact that they're a bunch of limp wristed whoopsies when it comes to fighting the enemies of freedom, I perhaps can be forgiven for this.
Meet the Puce Dogs...Libertarians.
Ivan, I don't even know yet who most of these new people are, but you took the words out of my mouth. The Democrats don't PERMIT their politicians to vote pro-life or pro-family. It violates their most basic beliefs.
There will be a lot of one term wonders. Many of these RAT newbies ran as conservative-lites and will self-destruct 2 years from now when their actual voting records get highlighted.
They were called Dixiecrats around these parts.
Agreed. These are not conservatives. They just play them on television.
I am shocked! I never would of known...:-)
exactly right. if you don't believe in big government trampling on the rights of Christians, then it's hard to see how you can run as a DemocRAT.
phoneys, all of them. a lot of red state voters are going to have buyer's remourse in a few months when they realize that they got conned by pelosi-loving LIEberals posing as cowboys.
Now that's a Blue Dog!
maybe the "Rainbow Flag Cowboys"
Hmmm-m-m-m, let's see, Democrats who came over from the dark side: Ronald Reagan, Strom Thurmond, Ben Nighthorse Campbell, Harry Byrd, Rchard Shelby, John Connolly...