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Readers of this blog know well that Sandy’s favorite Democrat (at least among office holders) is Rep. Heath Shuler of North Carolina (blogger’s note and disclaimer – I am a native of the Tarheel State but I am from eastern NC); Shuler’s the former quarterback of the Redskins and Saints (another disclaimer – geaux Saints!) who a outspoken follower of Christ and conservative “Blue Dog” Democrat.  Shuler was the subject of prior articles here at the blogs I write for.

The first bit of good news is the latest poll gives Shuler a comfortable lead over his Republican opponent – 54 to 39 percent.

The second bit of news is interesting:  Shuler might run for Speaker against Nancy Pelosi.  This article has the comment on video.  It is described as a joke by a high Democrat official and former Shuler campaign manager:

Shuler’s office didn’t respond to an inquiry into whether the two-term congressman is plotting a Pelosi challenge, but North Carolina Democratic Party Executive Director Andrew Whalen, a former Shuler campaign manager, said he believed the Blue Dog was only kidding.

“I’ve known Heath for a lot of years and I thought he was just making a light-hearted joke,” Whalen told POLITICO in an e-mail.

But Ari Berman in his article didn’t take it as a joke; he believes the Blue Dogs are the problem:

Conservative Democrats in the House of Representatives — whose election in 2006 and 2008 enabled Nancy Pelosi to preside over a supermajority (there are 255 Democrats and 178 Republicans) — increasingly question whether she should relinquish her position as speaker. Representative Heath Shuler of western North Carolina, a leader of the restive Blue Dog Coalition of Democrats, has even hinted that he may run for her job. Representative Shuler is an unlikely candidate for leader of the party — a devout Southern Baptist who voted against the stimulus, the bank and auto bailouts and health care reform. Yet he’s exactly the kind of Democrat that the party worked very hard to recruit for public office.

It’s true; progressives have been upset at Shuler (see my prior blogs above for details); that is not likely to change. I would suggest that Shuler will not be able to run for Speaker (the GOP looks like they will win the House but all my readers need to vote to make sure of that!) but even if the position is minority leader, it’s not a good move for the conservative Democrat.

First, Shuler would have to carry water for liberal Obama and the liberals in the House.  Many Blue Dogs will be ousted in 2010; that will require Shuler to work a deal with liberals that do not like him or his policies.  He’ll have to compromise and he’ll end up being opposed by both sides.  Second, with fewer Blue Dogs, Shuler will not have a base for effective leadership.

Shuler has another option; as I have said before, he should switch parties.  He might have to go the way of the independent for a term or two, much as Virgil Goode did here in Virginia.  However, he’d be much more at home in the GOP.  To use an analogy former quarterback Shuler will understand:  When people on your own team are against you, you need to ask for a trade – or an unconditional release.  Come join the Republicans after the election.  You have my support!

About Elwood Sanders

Elwood "Sandy" Sanders is a Hanover attorney who is an Appellate Procedure Consultant for Lantagne Legal Printing and has written ten scholarly legal articles. Sandy was also Virginia's first Appellate Defender and also helped bring curling in VA! (None of these titles imply any endorsement of Sanders’ views)


  1. Tom White says:

    I liked Shuler. He was a good(ish) quarterback. And as Democrats go (I suppose we must have a few), he is one of the least objectionable.

    But if the predictions are accurate, and this turns into a tsunami for Republicans, Progressives are done. Finished.

    One of two things will happen. Democrats will put moderates in charge and Obama and the Progressives will find a hostile environment as the Republicans and Blue Dogs move the agenda to the right, or, and perhaps more likely, the number of moderate Dems will dwindle as the more Conservative districts go to the Republicans, leaving a high concentration of Progressive types, who will double down and fight the majority of Americans as they all along.

    The first scenario – a Blue Dog takeover – will help Obama’s reelection odds, even if he resists. He will be forced to moderate or look (even more) foolish. But, even against his will, the public will see Democrats in general more moderate and he will win back independents.

    The latter scenario, which is more likely, will lead to two years of screeching and further isolation from mainstream voters of the Democratic Party and lock Obama in as a one term president.

    If the Democrats go Blue Dog and Schuler becomes minority leader (I think speaker is a pipe dream), the long term outlook for Progressives is better than if they (the Progressives) retain control of the Democratic Party.

    America is beginning to see that policies from Republican RINO’s and Progressive Democrats are what caused the economic problems. Both must be purged for the country to return to prosperity.


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Tom White Says:

Nothing is more conservative than a republican wanting to get their majority back. And nothing is more liberal than a republican WITH a majority.

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