The XX Factor

Blue Dogs I Wouldn’t Mind Adopting


Let me start off by saying that I admire your ability to vote for the candidate and not the party. I consider myself a moderate along the political spectrum, yet I’m fiercely loyal to the Republican Party.

But if I had to go blue … let’s see. My ideal Democrat would almost certainly belong to the Blue Dog coalition (or identify as a fiscal conservative). He or she wouldn’t have to be pro-life (I’ve voted for pro-choice Republicans, so I’m not going to be a hypocrite), but votes that show a respect for the abortion debate would help. I’d want to see someone who recognized that climate-change bills that hurt businesses without significantly cleaning up the environment are harmful. I don’t want someone who blows a lot of hot air talking about the needs of “working families” without acknowledging that untold numbers of working families are small-business owners.

Happily, I found a few good candidates. If I lived in North Carolina (and oh, if only I could: the beaches! the mountains!), I would happily vote for Heath Shuler , who represents a district in the western part of the state. Not only is he anti-abortion, but he looks out for small businesses, and he stood up in the face of what must have been enormous pressure to vote against the bank bailout in 2008 and the stimulus package earlier this year (for that, I’ll forgive him his vote on cap-and-trade). Kathy Dahlkemper , a businesswoman whose pro-life views are typical of Pennsylvania Democrats, is another Dem I could support. She and her husband run a landscaping business, and she embodies the “citizen legislator” ideal that I find appealing. (Also, according to this story , she had to train three people to take over her duties at the business when she started campaigning. Superwoman!) One thing that struck me when I was reading about the Blue Dog Democrats, though, is how few women are in the coalition. There are five women among the 50-some Blue Dogs. But there are 57 women among the 256 Democrats in the House. Is there a reason fewer women identify as fiscal conservatives?

Photograph of Heath Shuler by Mark Wilson/Getty Images.