Shuler paints picture of strained relationship between Blue Dogs and Pelosi
Appearing today on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, U.S. Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.) outlined tension between House Democratic leadership and the party’s conservative Blue Dog Caucus, saying, “There has really been no communication whatsoever. We still do not have any connection between the Blue Dogs and leadership,” according to Politico.
Shuler, of North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District, challenged former House speaker and current minority leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) for House and party leadership at the beginning of the 112th Congress, but received only 11 votes. (The move was largely symbolic given Republicans were sure to name Rep. John Boehner as speaker.)
Shuler also represented himself as a centrist in the interview. “I think the Blue Dogs represent 80 percent of America. You look at the political structure on both sides — they only represent 10 percent on each side of the American people. Blue Dogs represent 80 percent of America,” he said.
The Blue Dog Caucus now boasts 26 members, down from 54 after heavy party losses and some retirements in the midterm elections.
Shuler has sought to position himself as independent of both parties in a number of high-profile moves recently, including introducing a bipartisan redistricting bill. He is also currently one of the only Democratic co-sponsors of a bill that would have limited the exceptions to cases of “forcible rape.” The bill’s author stripped that provision after sizable protest. Nevertheless, the abortion bill still includes language that would expand and codify the Hyde Amendment.
Shuler is likely to face a tough re-election battle in 2012. Republicans, who control the redistricting process in N.C., are almost certain to pack more Republicans into the 11th district.