Monday, June 24, 2013

Dan Lipinski Joins The Blue Dogs As They Gasp Their Last Breath


The Great Blue Dog Apocalypse of 2010 really marked the end of the any claim to power or influence for the treacherous conservatives inside the Democratic Party known as Blue Dogs. They lost dozens of Members as Democrat base votes just stayed away from the polls in droves and let them go down to ignominious defeats in district after district. 2010 was the last hurrah for conservatives undermining progressive values inside the caucus and in committees, the likes of obstructionist reactionaries and careerists Bobby Bright (AL)-- Blue America's favorite scalp that year-- Allen Boyd (FL), Gene Taylor (MS), Jim Marshall (GA), Baron Hill (IN), Travis Childers (MS), Walt Minnick (ID), and Brad Ellsworth (IN), to name just a few. The following cycle, 2012, a good year for real Democrats, was another nail into the hearts of what was left of the now ridiculous Blue Dog Caucus, which had already been supplanted by the New Dems as the place for corporate lobbyists to go to bribe conservative Democrats to vote with the GOP. In 2012 only one new Blue Dog was elected, Pete Gallego (TX) and we were happily rid of several of the worst Blue Dogs remaining-- Tim Holden (PA), Joe Baca (CA) and Jason Altmire (PA) in primaries and Leonard Boswell (IA), Ben Chandler (KY), and Larry Kissell (NC) to Republicans. Reading the writing on the wall, sleazy Blue Dogs Mike Ross (AR), Dennis Cardoza (CA), Heath Shuler (NC), and Dan Boren (OK) all avoided defeats by retiring. All 4 seats were Republican pickups.

And then there were 3 mangy Blue Dogs who escaped defeat by the skin of their teeth: John Barrow (GA), Mike McIntyre (NC) and Jim Matheson (UT). With any luck, all three will lose in 2014. All three-- who are consistent in voting with Boehner and Cantor against the Democrats on crucial issues-- are facing challengers who came close to beating them in 2012 and who have momentum going into 2014.

Barrow was lucky. The viable Republican in the 2012 race, Rick Allen, was in a primary battle with another Augusta Republican. That allowed a weak GOP candidate from the rural southern part of the district, Lee Anderson, to slip in. Even without much support, Anderson held Barrow down to a 54-46% win in November. Anderson spent $1,173,443 to Barrow's $2,880,363, most of which came from PACs. Even so, Anderson beat Barrow in 10 of the district's 19 counties, including giant Columbia County. Next year Barrow is likely to be facing Allen, a wealthy businessman and favorite of the Republican Establishment, not Anderson. Although Obama lost to Romney in the district (43.6- 55.4%), the big turnout among African-American voters for Obama helped Barrow immensely. It's not likely Barrow will have the kind of support in a midterm, especially if someone spends some resources telling African American voters who Barrow consistently votes against their interests. Obama wanted to raise an increase in the minimum wage, for example. Barrow was one of the only Democrats to vote with the Republicans against it. Instead of just taking out ads that claim (falsely) that Barrow is a puppet of Nancy Pelosi, if Republicans had half a brain, they would take out ads on black radio talking about Barrow's voting record. GA-12 was just gerrymandered to defeat Barrow and has a daunting PVI of R+9! If the NRCC can't do it, they should lose their license to practice electoral politics.

Much easier for the Republicans are the actual rematches between two of the weakest Democrats in the House, Matheson and McIntyre. Last year McIntyre beat David Rouzer 167,590 to 167,057 (533 votes) in a newly redistricted NC-07 that was gerrymandered to have a staggering R+12 PVI. Of the district's 12 counties, Rouzer won 5, including biggies Brunswick and Johnston. Last time, Rouzer had to contend with a psychotic teabagger primarying him that kept him busy most of the time he should have been focusing on McIntyre.

Similar story for Matheson in Utah. He managed to beat Republican Mayor Mia Love 108,275 to 105,629. UT-04-- with a PVI of R+16-- has 4 counties. Love won 3 and Matheson held his base in the biggest, Salt Lake, where he beat her 53-44%. UT-04 only gave Obama 30% of it's votes in 2012 (down from 41% in 2008); this really is the Republican heartland and there's no reason in the world for voters there to tolerate even a Democrat as conservative as Matheson. Love will be a far better candidate after her close loss last year. She's already hired much better staff and is far more focused on the district. There are no sure things in politics but a victory for Love over Matheson in 2014 is as close as you'll get.

Will the Blue Dogs close up shop and just join the New Dems after the three expected defeats? The DCCC looks like its ready to spent a couple million dollars on Blue Dog loser Brendan Mullen in Indiana again, but he'll lose even more decisively than he did in 2012. Aside from Gallego, the only "new" Blue Dog is Illinois reactionary Dan Lipinski who was angered at not getting the appointment as Ambassador to the Holy See... and joined the Blue Dogs recently to get revenge. (He votes with them all the time anyway.) Still, with the defeats of Matheson, Barrow and McIntyre in 2014-- and the departure of Mike Michaud who is retiring from Congress to run for governor of Maine-- that will leave just 11 hapless Blue Dogs in the House... unless, like Adam Schiff, Loretta Sanchez (CA) also quits the caucus. Then there'll be 10, many of whom are already more committed to the New Dems than the most racist, misogynistic and homophobic Blue Dogs. That's a lot smaller than the House Bicycle Caucus.

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