From left: Reps. Heath Shuler, John Barrow, Mike Ross and Dan Boren, leaders of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition, say they are still frustrated with Nancy Pelosis leadership and are willing to work with Republicans on issues such as shrinking the deficit.
Ross said: “If our leadership had listened to us a little bit more, perhaps we’d be in the majority today. I hope our leadership understands more clearly now that the pathway to a Democratic majority is by electing conservative, moderate Democrats.”
He also criticized Pelosi for failing to name a Blue Dog to the White House’s fiscal commission last year, even though they had long promoted the idea.
Blue Dogs aren’t going to leave recruiting and fundraising for 2012 up to the Minority Leader.
“We’re the ones who are going to have to go and recruit,” said Shuler, who unsuccessfully challenged Pelosi for Minority Leader last year and secured 11 votes against her on the floor during last week’s Speaker vote. “A big part of what we do is to help build our coalition.”
Matheson said the Blue Dog PAC will be more robust in the 2012 cycle, focusing more heavily than before on recruitment and support of Blue Dog candidates across the country.
President Barack Obama, meanwhile, earned higher marks from the bloc’s leaders for pivoting to the center since the November elections — something they said he needs to continue to do if he hopes to win re-election.
Matheson applauded Obama for acknowledging the “shellacking” that the party received.
“He recognized what happened in the election, he acknowledged it, he has shaken things up and he’s acknowledged that he might have done some things differently,” Matheson said. “That is a contrast to what our leadership has done after the election.”
Shuler said that for Obama to win re-election, he is going to have to reach out to independent voters, and that means moving more toward centrist Blue Dog positions.
“We feel that he has to align himself going forward more with us,” he said.
Rep. Dan Boren, the Blue Dog whip, said it’s too early to tell whether Obama’s shift to the center will last.
“It’s very early. If the next two years are like the last two years, he won’t be successful,” the Oklahoma Democrat said. “If he moves to the middle, works with independents, works with moderates within our Caucus [and] meets with Blue Dogs, he’s got a real good chance of being successful.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.