Centrist Democrats Poised to Retake Congress

Irony? MoveOn, Kos, and other “progressive” voices have declared for the better part of six years how they were going to “take back their party.” But when it came time to cash in their chips, traditional moderate Democrats were their bankers. Janet Hook from the LA Times writes:

Republicans are ringing alarms about what the House would be like if the GOP lost control: a throwback to the unreconstructed liberalism of big-government activism, tax increases and a weak-kneed defense policy. They point with Halloween-season horror to the likely lineup of Democratic committee chairs, including Henry A. Waxman (D-Los Angeles) and other liberal old-timers.

But… many of the Democratic candidates most likely to be elected are cut from a different cloth… Among the party’s House challengers, 33 are conservative enough to be endorsed by either the Blue Dogs or the political arm of the centrist Democratic Leadership Council. Nearly all are on the Cook Political Report’s latest list of Democrats most likely to win seats now held by Republicans. The party needs to pick up 15 seats to win a majority in the House.

The article concentrates mainly on Heath Shuler, a probusiness, antiabortion North Carolina Democrat who currently leads his Republican opponent. Shuler, a former NFL quarterback for the Washington Redskins was actually recruited in 2002 to run as a Republican, but he turned them down. He stuck with the Democratic Party, his spokesman said, because he wanted to “help those who cannot help themselves — and that’s the Democratic Party.”

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee last year made a point of recruiting conservative candidates and even some former Republicans for this year’s midterm election, in some cases muscling out more-liberal contenders who seemed likely to lose in Republican-leaning territory.

“The Democrats are going to retake the House of Representatives by electing conservative and moderate Democrats,” said Rep. Mike Ross (D-Ark.), a member of the Blue Dog Coalition. “We’re going to move our party back to the middle.”

Heath Schuler, Rahm Emanuel, Harold Ford


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