Jump to content

Blue Dog Coalition

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Blue Dog Coalition
Co-ChairsJared Golden (Administration)
Mary Peltola (Policy)
Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (Communications)
FoundedFebruary 14, 1995
Political position
National affiliationDemocratic Party
Colors  Blue
Seats in the House Democratic Caucus
10 / 213
Seats in the House
10 / 435

The Blue Dog Coalition, commonly known as the Blue Dogs or Blue Dog Democrats, is a caucus of moderate members from the Democratic Party in the United States House of Representatives.[5][7] The caucus was founded as a group of conservative Democrats in 1995 in response to defeats in the 1994 elections. Historically, the Blue Dog Coalition has been both fiscally and socially conservative.[13][14][12] At its peak in 2009, the Blue Dog Coalition numbered 54 members.[15]

In the late 2010s and early 2020s, the Coalition's focus shifted towards ideological centrism and pragmatic, constituency-based politics;[1][16][6] however, the Coalition maintained an emphasis on fiscal responsibility.[2] The Blue Dog Coalition remains the most conservative grouping of Democrats in the House.[15] As of 2024, the caucus has ten members.[17][18]

Electoral results[edit]

House of Representatives[edit]

Congress Democratic seats ±
104th (1994)
29 / 204
105th (1996)
28 / 207
Decrease 1
106th (1998)
34 / 211
Increase 6
107th (2000)
35 / 212
Increase 1
108th (2002)
38 / 205
Increase 3
109th (2004)
38 / 202
110th (2006)
56 / 233
Increase 18
111th (2008)
54 / 257
Increase 8
112th (2010)
28 / 193
Decrease 36
113th (2012)
19 / 201
Decrease 9
114th (2014)
15 / 188
Decrease 4
115th (2016)
18 / 193
Increase 3
116th (2018)
27 / 235
Increase 9
117th (2020)
19 / 222
Decrease 8
118th (2022)
11 / 213
Decrease 8

Overview and history[edit]

President Barack Obama meets with Blue Dog Democrats on February 10, 2009

The Blue Dog Coalition was formed in 1995[19][20] during the 104th Congress to give members from the Democratic Party representing conservative-leaning districts a unified voice after the Democrats' loss of Congress in the 1994 Republican Revolution.[21]

The term "Blue Dog Democrat" is credited to Texas Democratic Representative Pete Geren (who later joined the George W. Bush administration). Geren opined that the members had been "choked blue" by Democrats on the left.[22] It is related to the political term "Yellow Dog Democrat", a reference to Southern Democrats said to be "so loyal they would even vote for a yellow dog before they would vote for any Republican". The term also refers to the "Blue Dog" paintings of Cajun artist George Rodrigue of Lafayette, Louisiana as the original members of the coalition would regularly meet in the offices of Louisiana representatives Billy Tauzin and Jimmy Hayes, both of whom later joined the Republican Party – both also had Rodrigue's paintings on their walls.[23][24] An additional explanation for the term cited by members is "when dogs are not let into the house, they stay outside in the cold and turn blue", a reference to the Blue Dogs' belief they had been left out of a party that they believed had shifted to the political left.[25] At one time, first-term Blue Dogs were nicknamed 'Blue Pups'.[23] Starting in the twenty-first century, the caucus began shifting its ideology and began adopting more socially liberal stances in order align more closely with mainstream Democratic Party political values.[1]

Disputes within the Democratic Party[edit]

In 2007, 15 Blue Dogs in safe seats rebelled, and refused to contribute party dues to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. An additional 16 Blue Dogs did not pay any money to the DCCC, but were exempt from party-mandated contributions because they were top GOP targets for defeat in 2008. One reason for the party-dues boycott was contained in remarks made by Rep. Lynn Woolsey of California, encouraging leaders of anti-war groups to field primary challenges to any Democrat who did not vote to end the war in Iraq. Woolsey later stated that she was misunderstood, but the Blue Dogs continued the boycott. Donations to party congressional committees are an important source of funding for the party committees, permitting millions of dollars to be funneled back into close races.[26]

Role in the passage of the ACA[edit]

In the summer of 2009, The Economist said the following regarding the Blue Dog Coalition: "The debate over health care ... may be the pinnacle of the group's power so far." The Economist quoted Charlie Stenholm, a founding Blue Dog, as stating that "This is the first year for the new kennel in which their votes are really going to make a difference".[27] In July 2009, Blue Dog members who were committee members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee successfully delayed the House vote on the Health Insurance Reform Bill (HR3200) until after the summer recess.[28][29] It was during this recess that the term 'Obamacare' was first derisively adopted by Republicans on Capitol Hill.[30] Blue Dog opposition to a potential "public option" within Obamacare, together with the contentious town hall meetings faced by House members during the 2009 summer recess, gave the healthcare law's Republican opponents an opportunity to attack the "public option" and get it removed from the bill.[31][32][33]

The Washington Post stated that the Blue Dogs, with over 50 members, were the most influential voting bloc in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2010.[34]

2010s decline[edit]

The Blue Dog Coalition suffered serious losses in the 2010 midterm elections, losing over half of its seats to Republican challengers. Its members, who were roughly one quarter of the Democratic Party's caucus in the 111th Congress, accounted for half of the party's midterm election losses.[35] Including retirements, Blue Dog numbers in the House were reduced from 59 members in 2009 to 26 members in 2011.[36] Two of the Coalition's four leaders (Stephanie Herseth Sandlin and Baron Hill) failed to secure re-election.[37][38]

The caucus shrank even more in the 2012 House of Representatives elections, decreasing in size from 27 to 14 members. Speculation ensued that the centrist New Democrat Coalition would fill the power vacuum created by the Blue Dog Coalition's decline.[39] Opposition to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and climate change legislation are believed to have contributed to the defeat of two conservative Democrats in the 2012 House elections in Pennsylvania by more liberal opponents.[40]

In the 2016 elections, future Blue Dogs accounted for over half of the Democrats' gains in the House.[41] In 2018, for the first time since 2006, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee partnered with the Blue Dog PAC (the Blue Dog Coalition's political organization) to recruit candidates in competitive districts across the country.[42] After the 2018 House of Representatives elections, the caucus grew from 18 members to 24.[36] All incumbents were re-elected and Rep. Kyrsten Sinema was elected to the U.S. Senate from Arizona.[43] The caucus also added 11 new members who defeated Republican incumbents in the 2018 election in districts that had voted for Donald Trump in 2016.[44]

Biden presidency[edit]

The Democratic Party lost seats in the 2020 and 2022 House of Representatives elections, including the Blue Dog Coalition. As of April 2024, during the 118th Congress, the Coalition had 10 members.[45]

At the start of the 118th Congress in January 2023, six of the 15 members of the Coalition departed following a failed attempt to rename the group to the "Common Sense Coalition".[46] Freshman representative Don Davis, who was expected to join the Blue Dogs, also chose not to do so.[17] After this split, the group reorganized and began an effort to stabilize, rebuild, and maintain influence on policy proposals in the closely divided 118th Congress.[47] The effort included a recruitment drive which prompted Mary Peltola (AK-AL), Marie Gluesenkamp Pérez (WA-03), and Wiley Nickel (NC-13) to join, bringing the number of members back up to 10.[48] Under the leadership of Peltola, Perez, and Representative Jared Golden, the caucus shifted its focus towards ideological centrism and pragmatic, constituency-based (especially rural and working-class) politics.[16] One of the six departees, Lou Correa (CA-46), rejoined the Coalition in 2024.


The Blue Dog Coalition is the most conservative grouping of Democrats in the House. It "advocates for fiscal responsibility, a strong national defense and bipartisan consensus rather than conflict with Republicans". It acts as a check on legislation that its members perceive to be too far to the right or to the left on the political spectrum.[2] In the 2010s, the Blue Dogs became more demographically diverse and less conservative.[1]

The Blue Dog Coalition is often involved in searching for a compromise between liberal and conservative positions, including classically liberal policies. Most of its members represent competitive swing districts, and are thus inclined to appeal to swing voters.[49] Though its members have evolved on social issues over time,[36] the group has never taken a position on social issues as a caucus.[1] As of 2014, there was no mention of social issues in the official Blue Dog materials.[50]


Blue Dog Coalition in the 118th United States Congress

In the early years of the caucus, the Blue Dogs were viewed by some as the political successors to Southern Democratic groups known such as the Boll Weevils or conservative coalition.[51][52] The Boll Weevils may, in turn, be considered the descendants of the Dixiecrats and the "states' rights" Democrats of the 1940s through the 1960s, and even the Bourbon Democrats of the late 19th century.[53]

In January 2019, McClatchy reported a transformation of the Blue Dogs from a coalition of 'southern white men' to 'a multi-regional, multicultural group.' At that time, the coalition included two African-American members, one Vietnamese-American, one Mexican-American, and only five members from Southern states.[36]

As of April 2024, the Coalition included 10 members. At that point, the Coalition's membership was smaller than it had ever been since its formation.[17][49]


The co-chairs of the Blue Dog Coalition for the 118th Congress are U.S. representatives Jared Golden, Mary Peltola, and Marie Gluesenkamp Pérez.[45]

Chairs of the Blue Dog Coalition
Term start Term end Chair for Administration Chair for Communications Chair for Policy
February 1995 April 1995 Gary Condit John S. Tanner Nathan Deal
April 1995 January 1999 Collin Peterson
January 1999 January 2001 Robert E. Cramer Chris John Charles Stenholm
January 2001 January 2003 Chris John Jim Turner Allen Boyd
January 2003 January 2005 Jim Turner Baron Hill Charles Stenholm
January 2005 January 2007 Jim Matheson Dennis Cardoza Jim Cooper
January 2007 January 2009 Allen Boyd Mike Ross Dennis Moore
January 2009 October 2009 Stephanie Herseth Sandlin Charlie Melancon Baron Hill
October 2009 January 2011 Jim Matheson
January 2011 January 2013 Heath Shuler Mike Ross John Barrow
January 2013 January 2015 John Barrow Kurt Schrader Jim Cooper
January 2015 January 2017 Kurt Schrader Jim Costa
January 2017 January 2019 Jim Costa Henry Cuellar Dan Lipinski
January 2019 January 2021 Stephanie Murphy Lou Correa Tom O'Halleran
January 2021 January 2023 Tom O'Halleran Ed Case
January 2023 May 2023 Jared Golden Jim Costa
May 2023 present Jared Golden Marie Gluesenkamp Pérez Mary Peltola

Current members[edit]





New Jersey

North Carolina



See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Mendoza, Jessica (June 4, 2019). "Centrist Democrats are back. But these are not your father's Blue Dogs". Christian Science Monitor.
  2. ^ a b c Weiner, Mark (February 1, 2019). "Anthony Brindisi to co-chair Blue Dogs, caucus of moderate House Democrats". syracuse.com.
  3. ^ Blake, Aaron (April 25, 2012). "Why the Blue Dogs' decline was inevitable". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 23, 2016.
  4. ^ [1][3]
  5. ^ a b Davis, Susan. "U.S. House has fewer moderate Democrats". USA Today. Archived from the original on December 4, 2014. Retrieved July 23, 2014.
  6. ^ a b Ruth Bloch Rubin, ed. (2017). Building the Bloc: Intraparty Organization in the US Congress. Cambridge University Press. p. 188. ISBN 9781316510421. In contrast to the halting mobilization of Insurgent Republicans and southern Democrats, the Blue Dogs' adoption of ... ideological bonafides, the Coalition worked to establish a Blue Dog brand and associate it with support for centrist policies.
  7. ^ a b "Lobbying from the center". The Hill. January 26, 2021.
  8. ^ [5][6][7]
  9. ^ Caygle, Heather (February 14, 2018). "Centrist Democrats try new approach to Russia messaging". POLITICO. Retrieved July 19, 2022.
  10. ^ Murad, Yours (January 31, 2020). "After a Year of Heated Debate, 'Medicare for All' Holds On to Voters' Majority Support". Morning Consult. Retrieved July 19, 2022.
  11. ^ [9][10]
  12. ^ a b Elections A to Z. SAGE. 2012. ISBN 9780872897694. Retrieved August 14, 2014.
  13. ^ Duncan, Philip P.; Nutting, Brian (1999). CQ's politics in America: 2000, the 106th Congress. Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly, Inc. p. 18. ISBN 9781568024714.
  14. ^ Solomon, Norman (May 24, 2010). "When the Leaders Lead, the People Have Sorrow". HuffPost. Retrieved January 13, 2023.
  15. ^ a b Miller, Jonathan (May 23, 2018). "The Blue Dogs Are Barking Again". Roll Call. Retrieved October 26, 2023.
  16. ^ a b "Dwindling Blue Dog Democrats look to stage a comeback for moderates". The Washington Post. August 8, 2023.
  17. ^ a b c Mutnick, Ally; Ferris, Sarah (January 24, 2023). "Blue Dog Coalition Membership". Blue Dog Coalition. Retrieved January 24, 2023.
  18. ^ "Members | Blue Dog Coalition". bluedogcaucus-golden.house.gov. September 6, 2023. Retrieved April 24, 2024.
  19. ^ Dumain, Emma (May 12, 2015). "20 years in, Blue Dogs not ready to roll over". rollcall.com.
  20. ^ "History". ross.house.gov/BlueDog/. Blue Dog Coalition. Archived from the original on April 5, 2012. Retrieved April 10, 2012.
  21. ^ Bendavid, Naftali (July 28, 2009). "'Blue Dog' Democrats hold health care overhaul at bay". The Wall Street Journal.
  22. ^ "Wordcraft Archives, November 2004". Wordcraft.infopop.cc. Retrieved February 23, 2016.
  23. ^ a b Suddath, Claire (July 28, 2009). "A Brief History of Blue Dog Democrats". Time. Archived from the original on July 31, 2009. Retrieved September 7, 2009.
  24. ^ Safire, William (April 23, 1995). "On Language; Blue Dog Demo". The New York Times. Retrieved September 7, 2009.
  25. ^ "Blue Dog Democrats". Bluedogs.us. November 4, 2008. Archived from the original on July 14, 2009. Retrieved March 17, 2010.
  26. ^ Bresnahan, John (October 24, 2007). "Blue Dogs refuse to pony up for DCCC". The Politico. Archived from the original on October 26, 2007. Retrieved November 1, 2007.
  27. ^ "The Democratic Party's centrists: Blue Dog days". The Economist. July 30, 2009.
  28. ^ "Are the Blue Dogs really working for you?". Silverbuzzcafe.com. Silver Buzz Cafe. August 20, 2009. Retrieved March 17, 2010.
  29. ^ "Two House Committees Approve Health Reform Bill". Child Welfare League of America. July 27, 2009. Archived from the original on June 16, 2010. Retrieved February 26, 2013.
  30. ^ Wallace, Gregory (June 25, 2012). "'Obamacare': The word that defined the health care debate". CNN. Archived from the original on July 12, 2012. Retrieved February 26, 2013.
  31. ^ Ball, Molly (November 16, 2012). "Blue Dogs are dwindling". The Atlantic. Archived from the original on April 13, 2013. Retrieved February 27, 2013.
  32. ^ Stolberg, Sheryl Gay (August 17, 2009). "'Public Option' in Health Plan may be dropped". The New York Times. Retrieved February 26, 2013.
  33. ^ "Blue Dogs And The Health Care Debate" NPR: Talk of the Nation, August 4, 2009.
  34. ^ Kane, Paul (January 15, 2014). "Blue Dog Democrats, whittled down in number, are trying to regroup". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on January 16, 2014. Retrieved July 23, 2014. Four years ago, they were the most influential voting bloc on Capitol Hill, more than 50 House Democrats pulling their liberal colleagues to a more centrist, fiscally conservative vision on issues such as health care and Wall Street reforms.
  35. ^ "Blue Dogs shaved in half – Blue Dog Democrats". Fox Nation. Fox News. November 3, 2010. Archived from the original on July 26, 2011.
  36. ^ a b c d "Shutdown, health care, budget: How moderate House Democrats will influence the party". mcclatchydc.
  37. ^ Allen, Jonathan (November 3, 2010). "Blue Dog wipeout: Half of caucus gone". Politico. Retrieved February 23, 2016.
  38. ^ "A vanishing breed: Blue Dogs". Los Angeles Times. November 3, 2010.
  39. ^ "New Dems hope to be a force in 113th Congress". The Hill. November 17, 2012.
  40. ^ "Why the Blue Dogs' decline was inevitable". The Washington Post. April 25, 2012.
  41. ^ "The Blue Dog map is changing. It may even help Democrats win Republican districts". The Politico. 2017.
  42. ^ "Blue Dogs eye comeback in 2018". The Politico. 2017.
  43. ^ "House Democratic Factions All See Gains After Midterms". Roll Call. November 13, 2018.
  44. ^ Rogin, Josh (December 13, 2018). "Blue Dog Democrats are poised to play a crucial role in the next Congress". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 17, 2020.
  45. ^ a b Ferris, Sarah (May 24, 2023). "The Blue Dog Coalition is adding a new member to their centrist ranks, alongside a fresh "fishing states" leadership group" – via POLITICO.
  46. ^ "Blue Dogs Devour Themselves Over Effort to Rebrand as 'Common Sense Coalition' | Common Dreams". www.commondreams.org. Retrieved April 21, 2024.
  47. ^ Mariana Sotomayor (August 8, 2023). "Dwindling Blue Dog Democrats look to stage a comeback for moderates in Congress". Washington Post.
  48. ^ Meyer, Theodoric; Caldwell, Leigh Ann (August 8, 2023). "Analysis | Meet the new Blue Dogs". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved August 24, 2023.
  49. ^ a b Mariana Sotomayor (August 8, 2023). "Dwindling Blue Dog Democrats look to stage a comeback for moderates in Congress". Washington Post.
  50. ^ Parton, Heather Digby (November 12, 2014). "Bye-bye, blue dog "Democrats": What the end of conservative Dems means for America". Salon. Retrieved December 24, 2016.
  51. ^ Parties, Rules, and the Evolution of Congressional Budgeting, Lance T. LeLoup, 2005, pp. 185
  52. ^ Encyclopedia of American Parties, Campaigns, and Elections, William C. Binning et al, 1999, pp. 307.
  53. ^ Thomson, Alex (2007). A Glossary of U.S. Politics and Government. Stanford University Press. p. 14. ISBN 978-0-8047-5730-0.

External links[edit]