The Blue Dog Coalition’s PAC backed eight Democratic House challengers Thursday in its first round of endorsements of the 2018 cycle.
Endorsements come with a $5,000 check — the maximum a PAC is allowed to contribute to a federal candidate per election. The PAC can cut each candidate another $5,000 check if they clear the primary and run in the general election.
An endorsement is also a signal to the current 18 Blue Dogs in the House to contribute directly to these candidates or to campaign and raise money for them.
The PAC endorsed two familiar faces: former Nebraska Rep. Brad Ashford, who’s vying for the seat he narrowly lost last fall, and Michigan Democrat Gretchen Driskell, who’s making a second bid for the 7th District. The PAC backed both of them in 2016.
The PAC also endorsed Anthony Brindisi in New York’s 22nd District, Paul Davis in Kansas’ 2nd District, Roger Dean Huffstetler in Virginia’s 5th District, Jay Hulings in Texas’ 23rd District, Brendan Kelly in Illinois’ 12th District and Dan McCready in North Carolina’s 9th District. President Donald Trump won nearly all of those districts last year.
“These candidates represent the best America has to offer,” Blue Dog PAC co-chair Kurt Schrader said in a statement. “Rather than being blindly ideological or beholden to any one party’s leadership, they are independent-minded individuals who are committed to serving a geographically diverse constituency,” he added.
Blue Dogs tend to be more fiscally conservative members of the Democratic caucus. Their numbers dwindled after the 2010 midterms. Between 2009 and 2011, there were 54 of them in the House. But they increased their ranks from 15 to 18 in the 115th Congress.
Five of the 12 Democratic challengers the PAC financially backed in the 2016 general elections made it to Congress. Those five freshmen, along with two others — Florida Rep. Charlie Crist and Texas Rep. Vicente Gonzalez — are now among the coalition’s 18 members.
Correction: A previous version of this article said President Donald Trump carried all eight districts in which the Blue Dog PAC has endorsed. Hillary Clinton won Texas' 23rd District.