Dem 51
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GOP 49
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Meet the New Blue Dogs, Not the Same as the Old Blue Dogs

The Blue Dog Coalition of moderate Democrats once numbered 70 members. It dropped to as few as seven and is now at 10. The leaders, Reps. Jared Golden (D-ME), Marie Perez (D-WA), and Mary Peltola (D-AK), are all under 50 and all represent districts Donald Trump won in 2020. Perez and Peltola are women of color (a Latina and a Native Alaskan, respectively). This is quite different from the Blue Dogs of yore.

The old Blue Dog Caucus was formed in 1995, largely by male conservative Southern Democrats who really didn't support much of what their Northern colleagues wanted, but couldn't bear the thought of becoming Republicans. A key issue back then was reducing the federal deficit. The 2010 midterms were a bloodbath for the group, when more than half the members were defeated for reelection. The decline continued for years.

The new leaders are trying to grow their coalition. Among other things, they are more socially liberal than the old Blue Dogs and are less out of touch with the Democratic mainstream than the old Blue Dogs were.

The Blue Dogs vote with the Republicans sometimes. Given their districts, they have to. Golden and Perez voted against Joe Biden's student debt forgiveness bill, for example. They recognize climate change, but want to address it slowly and cautiously.

They are a small group, but with House margins so small these days, Democrats can't write them off. If the Democrats pick up 10 seats in 2024 and take over the House, many of those 10 are likely to come from Trump territory (because the deep-blue districts already are represented by Democrats). They will be prime candidates for joining the Blue Dog Coalition and putting a brake on what the majority of Democrats want to do. Only a huge blow-out, with Democrats picking up 30 or 40 seats, is likely to prevent the Blue Dogs from becoming a real power center. (V)

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