Hoyer Recess Plan: Hit the Road for Moderates

Posted July 27, 2010 at 6:47pm

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer plans a busy August on the campaign trail, with appearances planned for more than two dozen House Members and candidates, particularly moderates for whom the Maryland Democrat is the go-to leader, according to his office.

Among the Democrats who can expect visits from Hoyer are Reps. Larry Kissell (N.C.), Mark Critz (Pa.), Christopher Carney (Pa.) and Tim Bishop (N.Y.) as well as Denny Heck, who is running to replace retiring Rep. Brian Baird (D-Wash.).

The packed schedule is part of a multifaceted effort by Hoyer to shore up his base of support heading into a difficult election year where the party’s majority is at stake and many of his allies are potentially on the chopping block.

“Leader Hoyer is committed to keeping a Democratic majority, so he will be traveling for two dozen Members and candidates this August and making the case that Democrats are moving the country forward, while Republicans offer nothing more than a return to the exact same failed Bush policies,” spokeswoman Katie Grant said.

Hoyer has also raised more than $4.7 million for other Democrats so far and given a series of meaty policy speeches offering a robust moderate perspective on fiscal responsibility, national security and the economy. Grant said the speeches lay the groundwork for arguments that Members can use in their districts.

Hoyer has been more of a hawk on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan than Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and several other top Democrats, while pushing aggressively for cutting the long-term deficit by reforming entitlements such as Social Security, controlling defense spending and raising revenue.

Heading into the break, Hoyer also has brought to the House floor bills sought by numerous vulnerable Democrats, including the Northern Border Counternarcotics Strategy Act for Rep. Bill Owens (N.Y.), the National Wildlife Refuge Volunteer Improvement Act for fellow Maryland Rep. Frank Kratovil and a national park expansion bill for Rep. Ciro Rodriguez (Texas).

“Throughout this Congress, he has scheduled bills on local issues that are critical for Members back home,” Grant said.

Hoyer also recently unveiled the “Make It in America” manufacturing agenda, a package of bills Democratic leaders assembled to highlight concerns about jobs moving overseas, based on themes Critz used in his special election this spring.

That agenda has helped them unite, put pressure on Republicans and have something to talk about on jobs after the bulk of their 2010 employment agenda has stalled in the Senate, Democrats said.

Hoyer also worked with House Appropriations Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.) to bring a border-security funding bill to the floor this week to give Members another item to tout before recess.

Rep. Dennis Cardoza (D-Calif.) said it has always been helpful when Hoyer has come to his district in the past.

“Every time I’ve brought Steny into my district, he’s wowed the press and he’s fired up my constituents,” he said.

He added that Hoyer also knows how to speak to local business groups without ruffling their feathers.

“I think Steny is very disarming when you meet him up close,” he said.

But there can be a downside to bringing a big Democratic insider to certain districts, one Democratic aide cautioned.

“I’m just not sure anybody from Washington is great to have come into your district and work for you,” the aide said. “These guys run a risk of being painted as too tied to Democratic leadership. Right now they need to be very careful about that.”

But a Democratic leadership aide brushed aside that concern. “That’s always the case depending on current politics in a district,” the Democratic aide said. “Of anyone in leadership, [Hoyer is] the one that’s generally welcome anywhere and everywhere, even in a year when Washington is a four-letter word.”