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'Blue Dog' Shuler Tops Pelosi's 'Enemies List'

Tuesday, 03 Mar 2009 03:19 PM

Former professional football player and Blue Dog Democrat Heath Shuler is at the top of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s “enemies list,’’ according to Politico.

Why? Shuler, D-N.C., has staked out a leadership position as a fiscal conservative who doesn’t ride with the pack on issues like the massive stimulus package, which he and five other conservative “Blue Dog” Democrats voted against. Shuler’s name tops a list of 10 alleged enemies of the speaker. While many are predictable – Rush Limbaugh occupies the No. 2 spot, Virginia Republican Eric Cantor comes in at No. 4 – others are Pelosi’s ostensible compatriots in the Democratic Party.

“No Democrat has done quite so much in so short a time to arouse Pelosi’s disdain as the failed-Redskins-quarterback-turned-ambitious-North-Carolina-congressman,” according to Politico.

“The conservative, anti-abortion Shuler would have made the list for voting against both bank bailout bills and the stimulus package, but the way he went about it didn’t help; Shuler told an audience back home that “House leadership and Senate leadership have really failed” on the $787 billion package.” What most riles Pelosi, according to several accounts, is that Shuler may be positioning himself for a run against Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., next year.

Unless Shuler is planning a long House career, picking a fight with Pelosi may indeed have its advantages: His 2006 opponent, incumbent GOP Rep. Charles Taylor, scored points by portraying Shuler as a Pelosi acolyte.

Shuler, a second-term member, is clearly being noticed among Pelosi’s allies as a potential problem. He opposed Democratic leaders when he was a freshman, including on a high-profile debate on immigration. He ruffled feathers last week, according to The Hill, when, in publicly objecting to abortion-related foreign-aid provisions in the omnibus spending bill, he twice referred to the “Democrat leadership” — omitting the “-ic” from word’s end and, in so doing, repeating a refrain used by Republicans to insult Democrats. It was a tactic sometimes used by former President George Bush.

“It is an issue,” a Democratic leadership aide told The Hill. “He (Shuler) is either trying to sound Republican, or he is confused by the Republicans how to refer to us Democrats.”

Other Democrats on the enemies list: Rep. Jane Harman, D-Calif., (“too hawkish”); Rep. Paul E. Kanjorski, D-Pa., (voted ‘no’ on original stimulus bill); Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., (“outspoken, too conservative Blue Dog”); and Rep. Peter DeFazio ,D-Ore. (“squeaky liberal wheel”).

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