Friday, May 25, 2018

Danger For Democrats: The Blue Dogs Aspire To The Freedom Caucus Role If The Dems Take Congress


DC's trade paper, Roll Call ran a p.r. piece for the Blue Dogs Wednesday, The Blue Dogs Are Barking Again, the premise being that what Jonathan Miller mistakenly refers to as "moderate" Democrats-- they're conservatives, nor moderates-- were nearly wiped out in 2010 "have hopes for a comeback this year." In 2006 there was a Democratic wave and the DCCC (under Rahm Emanuel) recruited lots of really terrible Blue Dogs who got swept into office by the wave. 2008 was Obama's election and the Democrats extended the wave. Then in the 2010 midterms, Democrats noticed that their Blue Dogs weren't voting like Democrats, they were voting like Republicans-- so the voters stayed home and the Blue Dogs were defeated. Ben Ray Lujan, the DCCC chairman is a moron who is following all of Emanuel's lame ideas-- recruiting Blue Dogs (and New Dems) who will all be wiped out in the next midterm, 2022. I asked a DCCC staffer about that and he laughed and said, if we can just get the gavel for those4 years, we can do so much good."

One of the non-Blue Dogs-- who was actively opposed by Emanuel-- in 2006 was Jerry McNerney. Despite's Emanuel's opposition, he won his primary and the general election-- against one of theist powerful committee chairmen in Congress-- and is still in Congress. Isn't that a better model for Lujan than Emanuel's proven failed model? When Pelosi picked him to lead the DCCC, she ticked off 2 identify politics boxes: Hispanic and gay. She wasn't concerned with the intelligent or competent boxes.

That said, the Blue Dogs aren't doing that great. Last Tuesday, their aggressively recruited Blue Dog in Kentucky, Jim Gray, was defeated by a more progressive candidate, the much less known, Amy McGrath:
Amy McGrath- 48,859 (48.66%)
jim Gray- 40,684 (40.51%)
Reggie Thomas- 7,226 (7.20%)
The Tuesday before, another Blue Dog they went all out for, ex-Congressman (and "ex"-Republican) Brad Ashford, got beaten by Berniecrat Kara Eastman in Omaha. Maybe Lujan and his feebleminded staffers should have taken into account that Bernie won the district in 2016 and that the Democrats who voted for him would probably not be too excited to support someone significantly to the right of Hillary.
Kara Eastman- 20,239 (51.43%)
Brad Ashford- 19,113 (48.57%)
But probably the most embarrassing of all the hilarious Blue Dog/DCCC failures in recent weeks was in the TX-23 primary. The DCCC's horrible candidate, Jay Hulings, was endorsed by the Blue Dogs, New Dems, the Castro Machine in San Antonio and everyone the DCCC could round up for their wretched candidate. Despite spending  $554,903 in the first round, he didn't make it to the 2nd round, the runoffs, because he came in fourth. Second place went tp Judy Canales, a progressive, who spent $33,472 and second place went to Rick Trevino, an avid Berniecrat, who spent $35,170. Hulings had nothing to offer anyone-- just his unimpressive bio that only sounds good inside the Beltway, while Trevino and Canales campaigned on policy that TX-23 voters want: Medicare-for-All, a living minimum wage, free public universities... you know, all the populist stuff that has made Bernie the most beloved political leader in America, while congressional Democrats have a favorability of 37% (almost as bad as the congressional Republicans' 31%).

Several other DCCC-favored Blue Dogs were quickly vanquished. None of that would ever stop Roll Call's nicely-greased p.r. machine. They start with a Blue Dog who won an Illinois primary, Brendan Kelly. Kelly, though, had no serious primary opponent. He sounds a lot like a Republican too, always blaming both parties for everything and loudly tells everyone that an assault weapon ban is taking things too far. His motto is "I’m not your cookie-cutter Democrat, that’s for sure." He brags that he won't vote for Pelosi as Democratic leader. The DCCC is so excited about him that they all pop boners whenever his name comes up.
[M]any are now eyeing 2018 as the Blue Dog’s comeback tour, its path back to relevance. In 2017, the group hired a full-time communications director for the first time since 2014.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has teamed up with the Blue Dogs to identify candidates in districts where Trump prevailed. They are quick to point out that of the six seats Democrats picked up in 2016, four of them are current Blue Dogs. So far, the Blue Dog PAC has endorsed 14 candidates for 2018 (though some have already lost), and more endorsements are on the way, members of the group said.

In March, one of their members, Illinois’ Daniel Lipinski, turned back a determined challenge from a more liberal opponent, Marie Newman.

Conor Lamb, who stunned everyone in March with his special election win in Pennsylvania, is the newest member of the group. Many candidates now are starting to emulate his campaign: pro-union, Trump-curious, anti-Pelosi.

...[T]he group is now starting to think big. Jim Costa, the California Democrat who co-chairs the group, has no doubt there will be growth in the ranks.

“I think the only question is what the number will be,” Costa said. “Will it be seven or eight?”

If that were the case, the Blue Dogs would once again be players at the table.

“If they were to be a caucus of 30 members and they were able to institute rules like the Freedom Caucus”-- the far-right group in which members vote as a bloc on legislation-- “they could have leverage,” said Danielle M. Thomsen, a professor at Syracuse University who has studied the decline of moderate candidates for Congress.

As the group plotted its comeback last year, it tapped a moderate diaspora that is now sprinkled throughout D.C.

Kristen Hawn, who once worked as communications director for the group on Capitol Hill, said that since the 2010 wipeout, the Blue Dog mafia, as she and others have been calling it, has kept in close contact. “We’re a tightly knit group of people. Not just colleagues, but close friends,” she said. The group she co-founded after she left the Blue Dogs, Granite Integrated Strategies, is helping train moderate candidates on messaging, issues and interacting with the media.

The Blue Dog PAC, which has raised nearly $1 million so far this cycle, is poised to exceed its fundraising efforts from 2014 though will likely fall short of 2012, when it raised $1.8 million. The PAC “double maxes out”-- meaning candidates receive $5,000 in the primary and another $5,000 in the general election.

Many contributors who have hit their contribution limit to the PAC have been steered to individual candidates, Hawn said. And even though many Blue Dogs are staunch defenders of gun rights, the group did run into some rough waters when the McClatchy news organization discovered in April the PAC had accepted $9,950 from the National Rifle Association.

While the PAC had accepted NRA money in the past, Hawn said that following an objection from Rep. Stephanie Murphy, a Florida Democrat and a Blue Dog, the money from 2017 was returned and the 2018 money was refused. Going forward, the PAC won’t accept NRA money, she said.

The co-chairs of the PAC, Reps. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Kurt Schrader of Oregon, screen potential candidates, asking open-ended questions on fiscal issues and national defense, the group’s top two priorities. The candidates get questions about the size of the national debt and whether they think it’s bad that China is holding so much of it.

Schrader said he’s been telling candidates that in his recruitment pitch there will be opportunities to work with Republicans on “meat and potatoes issues,” no matter the outcome in November.

He cites some of the regulatory rollback that’s been happening using the Congressional Review Act as an example-- many moderates and Blue Dogs have joined Republicans in supporting resolutions striking down Obama-era regulations, including one that prohibited mentally impaired Social Security recipients from purchasing firearms.

Schrader said that when he was recruiting Jeff Van Drew, a Blue Dog-endorsed candidate from southern New Jersey with an A-rating from the NRA and who is running for a seat being vacated by GOP Rep. Frank A. LoBiondo, the Democrat told him he was having a tough time getting things done in his own state legislature. So Schrader encouraged him to set his sights on Congress, “because frankly with Republicans in control, you’re going to find you’re going to have a lot more opportunity than you did back home.”

And should Democrats take over in November, Schrader added, “you’ll be the decision-makers, because you’ll be the swing vote.”

But Thomsen is less sure of such a scenario. “Until there are more moderates elected they aren’t going to be able to galvanize and be able to leverage the votes that they need to have any influence,” she said. “And until that happens, other moderates aren’t going to view the job as particularly attractive and thus are not going to run.”

In the meantime, Blue Dogs are eyeing candidates for potential future endorsements.

Let’s say Blue Dogs deliver in a big way in 2018. What will they do with that newfound power?

That is not entirely clear. One scenario that seems most likely: Democrats take control of the House, the Senate retains its narrow Republican majority and Trump is still in the White House. What legislation could get passed?

Blue Dogs say they remain open to working with Republicans and the White House on issues like immigration, infrastructure, trade and the opioid addiction crisis. Henry Cuellar, a Texas Democrat and co-chair of the group, met with Trump last year when Republicans were scrounging around for votes on the tax overhaul. (He ultimately voted against the bill, saying that the Republicans weren’t interested in incorporating his ideas.)

Cuellar said the group reached out to the administration early on to signal they were willing to work on issues like taxes and trade. He’s met with Trump multiple times, and has even been to the home of presidential daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner, both White House advisers. Of the president, he insisted: “I’m an optimist, I hope he still gives bipartisanship a chance. I will always have my door open.”

Molly Reynolds, who studies Congress at the Brookings Institution, thinks infrastructure would be a likely candidate for action. She also thinks there’s an appetite for overhauling the appropriations process. “That’s another place where there is bipartisan support for reform,” she said.

In March, the DCCC commissioned an internal poll in 52 swing districts on Trump, taxes and the economy, along with a memo prepared by the polling firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research. It concluded that candidates should feel free to oppose Trump where they disagreed with him “but must express a willingness to work with the President when his agenda might help the district.” And why is that? “Blanket opposition to Trump closes the door for many voters in these districts.”

Schrader acknowledges that type of approach is a balancing act. “To run in those districts you’ve got to be threading the needle on a regular basis,” he said. “You’ve got to show Democrats that you’re good on creating opportunity for everybody. A shared prosperity. I think that’s a great Democrat message. I don’t think it’s an anti-Republican message.” And on appealing to Republicans? “You have to talk about personal responsibility. Again, everyone has to have some skin in the game. And businesses aren’t evil, they’re actually the job-creators.”

But even if Democrats get their dream of a majority in the House-- would they really be willing to work on big-ticket issues while the national party attempts to defeat Trump in 2020? Costa further thinks that if Republicans retain a narrow majority, with, say Speaker Kevin McCarthy of California, they’ll need to come to Democrats for votes on certain issues. “Can you imagine McCarthy or whoever else trying to run his group with 225 [Republicans]? He’s going to have all the same problems and worse that [Paul D.] Ryan’s had and [John] Boehner’s had before him. They’re going to have to learn to work on a bipartisan basis.”

In addition, Blue Dogs say they are seeking more assurances to get to the front of the line for committee assignments. In years past, moderate Democrats sat in greater numbers on what are considered plum committees like Energy and Commerce, Finance and Appropriations. Costa said talks are underway with leadership on this issue. “Clearly that’s part of our discussion as we attempt to ensure that after the elections, we’re relevant in ways that we want to be,” he said. When pressed on whether he’s received any assurances, he allowed: “It’s still a work in progress-- we’ve had that conversation, directly and indirectly.”

One option that could be on the table is bloc voting. Blue Dogs could follow the lead of the House Freedom Caucus. In that group, if 80 percent of the members take a stand on an issue or legislation, the rest of the group must endorse it. Peterson, the Minnesota Blue Dog, said he’d be open to the idea. “It’s something to be considered,” he said. “On certain bills or certain times.” Most others in the group, though, are not terribly enthusiastic about it. “We’ve resisted that in the past,” said Costa, who thinks the group can use its leverage in other ways.

...In Virginia, Roger Dean Huffstetler outspent his opponents, but his campaign never seemed to catch on. Indeed, the PAC associated with the Blue Dogs donated $3,500 to Huffstetler-- $1,500 below what the group typically gives to endorsed candidates in their primary... Virginia’s 5th District [is] a massive, 10,000-square-mile area that stretches from the Washington suburbs to the North Carolina border, and includes the city of Charlottesville. In that race, Huffstetler squared off with Leslie Cockburn, a former journalist. Huffstetler checked all the boxes for this year’s strategy-- former military, entrepreneur, former chief of staff to Democratic Rep. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts, who has been recruiting veteran candidates. He outraised Cockburn by over $400,000, and seemed primed to challenge first-term GOP Rep. Tom Garrett, a member of the House Freedom Caucus who won his race in 2016 by 17 points, but whose fundraising has been weak.

But Cockburn, who supports Medicare for all, an assault weapon ban and repealing the tax cut bill that passed in December, said she never felt any pressure to drop out.

“They have not caused us any problems,” she said of the DCCC. “They’re being extremely helpful right now.” She defeated Huffstetler convincingly, not in a primary election, but rather in a caucus convention held earlier this month.

Still, some of her stances and history could cause unease for those eyeing the district for a takeover-- and the DCCC has put the race as a target for pickup.

Some Democrats fear that advocating Medicare for all will expose candidates to GOP attacks in the fall. “It would be a massive tax increase; it would make your individual plan illegal,” said one Democratic strategist not involved in the race.
These are the rest of the Blue Dogs with primaries coming up. Why bother to publish their names? Easy: so you can be sure to vote against them. There are no good Blue Dogs in Congress-- not one-- and there never will be. So don't vote for one and tell your friends and family not to vote for any as well. And, remember "Blue Dog" is not an adjective. It's a member of a right-of-center organization that is both venal and corrupt. It wasn't the House Republicans who killed the public option; it was the Blue Dogs and New Dems.
• Anthony Brindisi (NY)
Paul Davis (KS)
Gretchen Driskell (MI)
Ben McAdams (UT)
Max Rose (NY)
Jeff Van Drew (NJ)
Meanwhile, Alexis Levinson wrote for BuzzFeed that Progressive Groups Just Learned How Hard It Is To Sustain A Fight Against The Democratic Establishment. She reported about how fucked up the DCCC was about the Laura Moser campaign. "Progressive groups got a dramatic lesson in Texas this week: There are real limits to the power of anger to force a victory over the Democratic establishment. Laura Moser, an early cause célèbre for progressives this election cycle, badly lost a Tuesday night Democratic congressional primary in the Houston suburbs. Her loss, in part, was a function of the unique circumstance of the race. But it also showcased the shortcomings of the 'alternative infrastructure' that progressive groups are trying to build to help their candidates." The DCCC knew they were alienating Houston progressives and that their fatally flawed anti-union candidate can never win against Culberson. But the DCCC would Culberson keep the seat that see a progressive who refused to bribe incompetent, corrupt DCCC consultants win the seat.

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At 5:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Corporate rule is the goal, and both parties have many a Judas eager for their thirty pieces of filthy silver. It is why they work so hard to ensure that no candidate willing to deal with the needs of the people wins races. Why struggle against the powerful for a pittance when the rewards are so much greater to do little more than follow orders in acting against one's neighbors?

At 5:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This snip early was all I needed. The rest, good supporting evidence, only proves that this site is schizophrenic.

" In 2006 there was a Democratic wave and the DCCC (under Rahm Emanuel) recruited lots of really terrible Blue Dogs who got swept into office by the wave. 2008 was Obama's election and the Democrats extended the wave. Then in the 2010 midterms, Democrats noticed that their Blue Dogs weren't voting like Democrats, they were voting like Republicans-- so the voters stayed home and the Blue Dogs were defeated. Ben Ray Lujan, the DCCC chairman is a moron who is following all of Emanuel's lame ideas-- recruiting Blue Dogs (and New Dems) who will all be wiped out in the next midterm, 2022. I asked a DCCC staffer about that and he laughed and said, if we can just get the gavel for those4 years, we can do so much good."

I've been pointing out this progression of events from 2006 when Pelosi first got the gavel until the 2010 lunching that swept out a lot of the BDs but also quite a few better democraps, if you can say some were better. They were pretty much all dreadful, especially in the house. The staffer above wasn't saying they'd do 'so much good' for you and me. He was saying it about the money. Obamanation and the 'craps did a lot for health insurance, phrma, bank, defense and other corporations. he and they did dick for you and me.

I've also pointed out the parallels between 2018 and 2006, how the 'crap oligarchy are doing their all to maintain the purity of their caucus' corruption and how, if the anti-red wave's amplitude remains large (it seems to be petering out), they'll enjoy gains, with a charismatic candidate for prez in '18 might get larger majorities and will suffer another utter hosing in '20 since no matter how many 'craps there are, they will never serve anything nor anyone but the money.

Word for word, this piece validates all I've been saying for the past 2 years. Yet the only logical conclusion evades.

epiphany yet?

At 10:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Again, our Anonymous Brock troll weighs in with the attacks and offers no real solutions. How many years have you been at this? When called out, you ostensibly say everyone should vote for 3rd party candidates and not the candidates DWT supports, and yet, I have never once seen you offer up the name of a 3rd party candidate we should support in any of these districts. Seems odd that someone who so avidly follows this blog with consistent attacks also has absolutely no actual knowledge about any of these districts to even suggest who we really should be voting for...because you likely are being paid to keep us at home and not voting.

DWT understands basic mathematics, something you probably only understand based on cents per character typed in your paid screeds. Your supposed third-party coup would require us to elect at least 218 3rd party, Progressive, House Congress Critters, names of which you can't provide, to have a voting majority. In order to effect a leadership change within the Democratic caucus we would only need 50%+1 of Democratic House members to effect a leadership change. With just a bare majority of 218 only 110 would need to be progressives to definitely change the direction of the party. In reality you would need less as there are ample existing back-benchers that would vote with progressives to keep their jobs. DWT may not be supporting 110 candidates this cycle, but it beats your 0 of 218 3rd party slate you have yet to reveal.

At 10:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I see the paid trolls are out today. As usual, 10:02 defends the indefensible by claiming that things are as good as it gets by letting the Party be fascist corporate, and to push out all progressives because the cash math doesn't add up, so shut up and accept the growth of authoritarian domination and the loss of your Constitutional rights.

At 12:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, 10:02 does have a point, as does 10:51.

You see, DWT is in the status quo / lesser evilism business, even as it totally laments both as an auguring in to the end of times. Schizophrenic but not unusual.

10:02 is of the Al Davis school ("just win baby"). The one and only goal is for his tribe to win. What they do and refuse to do with that win is far below tertiary on his list. Identical to DWT, it yearns for status quo / lesser evilism and the auguring in to the end of times. Also schizophrenic, but more emotionally satisfying since the winning is the only goal.

But 10:51 recognizes the folly of both, assuming that the real goal is actual improvement in the lives of 300 million of us and NOT just the rich and corporate boards.

I am not satisfied with letting the money destroy the earth and almost all of its humanity for fun and profit, whether slow or quickly. I recognize, as does 10:51, that the ONLY way to stop this is to stop supporting the party who pretends to represent people but has not since the '80s. At all! Nearly all profound evils imposed on American idiots was done by the democraps (chiefly the 2008 crash that cost 11 million jobs and homes) and/or exacerbated by them. The exception are the oil and Islamic wars. Though not begun by democraps, they have always enjoyed wide (nearly unanimous) democrap support (1 voted nay on the enabling act that allowed cheney to start Iraq) and have been expanded by the 'crap unitary in between Nazi execs.

If you want to descent into hell, keep electing democraps, even though they are getting summarily worse every cycle.

If you want to catalyze improvements, you CANNOT keep electing democraps.

As to finding decent unaffiliated candidates in each district, That's where DWT could be of great help. I don't spend my days researching all 435 districts plus thousands of counties, cities, towns. DWT might even drive the bus, eventually, But DWT refuses to have its epiphany.

One wonders...


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