Friday, January 23, 2009

Blue Dog Democrats

From the AP: Gov. David Paterson has picked Democratic U.S. Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand to fill New York's vacant U.S. Senate seat, an aide to the governor said early Friday, a day after Caroline Kennedy abruptly withdrew from consideration. Aw, too bad. Looks like Caroline didn't have the ovaries for the family business. This is very disappointing. Still, given our recent experience, maybe political dynasties aren't such a great idea.

Paterson's appointment lasts until 2010, when a special election will be held to fill the final two years of Clinton's term.

Is it just me, or is the whole idea of Governors appointing Senators starting to look like a very bad one? Special elections, anyone? Anyone? Bueller?*

U.S. Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, who wasn't among the 10 to 20 people Paterson said applied for the Senate appointment, immediately criticized the expected pick. McCarthy, whose husband was killed by a gunman on the Long Island Railroad, said Gillibrand's support of more conservative issues such as gun ownership rights was out of step with most New York Democrats.

"I just think it's a very, very poor choice," McCarthy told News12 TV on Long Island on Friday. "It sends out a very very bad message." I gotta ask, why didn't YOU apply, Carolyn? You've gotta play to win. At least that's what the lottery commercials keep telling me. Seriously, wouldn't you have been in a better position to fight the NRA neanderthals in the Senate, than in the House?

But Gillibrand is a proven vote-getter in a largely rural eastern New York district that sprawls from the mid-Hudson Valley to north of Albany. She defeated a long-term Republican incumbent in 2006 and won re-election last year by a wide margin. Defeating a Republican in 2006? In New York? Is not a huge accomplishment. Of course, every seat counts, so good for her.

"On the minus side, she's an unproven statewide vote-getter, a conservative `Blue Dog' Democrat who could face a primary challenge in 2010 and face a tough general election," says Doug Muzzio, a political science professor at Baruch College. I'll get back to this, I promise.

The pick came after a week in which Kennedy surprisingly withdrew from consideration and Paterson revealed he was considering Cuomo, who had refused to publicly express his interest. In the end, Paterson chose the up-and-comer over more established names.
But Paterson has said the first task of a new U.S. senator should be bringing more aid in the federal stimulus package back to New York. It's uncertain that Gillibrand has the background or pull to do that. Uncertain? Try unlikely. Who's ever even heard of this woman? On the other hand....

She voted last year against the $700 billion Wall Street bailout bill. That's a BAD thing?! I don't personally know anyone who wanted to give the fat cat CEOs our money.

Gillibrand was an official in the Housing and Urban Development Department during the Clinton administration. She worked as a lawyer before challenging Republican John Sweeney in 2006 to represent New York's 20th District. Her upset win came after a police report showing that Sweeney's wife had called 911 in what appeared to be a domestic violence incident was leaked shortly before the election. Low blow. Guess she fights fire with fire.

In November, Gillibrand defeated wealthy General Electric heir Sandy Treadwell. The former state Republican chairman was seen as one of the Republican Party's best chances to capture a congressional seat in New York. That had to hurt. See also: ha ha.

OK, about the "Blue Dog" reference:

From Wikipedia: Blue Dog Democrats are a group of 47 moderate and conservative Democratic Party members of the United States House of Representatives. The Blue Dogs promote, among other things, fiscal conservatism and accountability. Many members come from conservative districts, where liberal Democrats comprise a decided minority of the general population.[citation needed]

In 2006, Blue Dog candidates such as Heath Shuler and Brad Ellsworth were elected in conservative-leaning districts, ending years of Republican dominance in these districts. In 2008, the Blue Dogs' prominence as a voting block was highlighted by their support for the Republican-backed FISA Amendments Act of 2008 that provided immunity to large telecom companies who had been accused of assisting the government in illegally spying on electronic communications involving U.S. persons.

"Blue Dog Democrat" is playfully derived from the original term Yellow Dog Democrat. It was former Texas Democratic Rep. Pete Geren who said that the members had been "choked blue" by those "extreme" Democrats, from the left. Thus, he is credited for coining the term Blue Dog Democrat.
The term is also a reference to the "Blue Dog" paintings of
Cajun artist George Rodrigue of Lafayette, Louisiana. The original members of the coalition would regularly meet in the offices of Louisiana representatives Billy Tauzin and Jimmy Hayes, both of whom had Rodrigue's paintings on their walls (and both of whom later switched to the Republican Party).

Soooo....the good news is they are Dems. The bad news is, they jump the aisle on a whim, apparently. I have no problem with moderates, despite my own far left lean. And some of their positions, even on financials, I agree with for the most part. But wiretapping? Jumping parties after being elected? Not down with that, Zell. In the balance? Don't trust these guys as far as I can throw them. I prefer to know where my representatives stand on all the issues.

*Edited because evidently it isn't just me.

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