Half a dozen House Democrats are actively campaigning against President Obama's healthcare reforms. So how many are openly supporting it on the campaign trail?
Zero. Nada. Zip.
The fact that no Democrat is touting the administration's No. 1 legislative accomplishment in their campaign advertising this cycle may be the best indication yet of just how unpopular the president's reform agenda has become.
Now, with the clock ticking down to November, Newsmax reveals its list of the top 10 blue dog Democrats who have stood up to oppose the president's proposals. The blue dog label is attached to Democrats who aren't afraid to take a more conservative approach than their party's line.
Relatively speaking, the following are profiles in Democratic courage:
Rep. Bobby Bright, D-Ala.
— Bright has opposed just about every major piece of legislation the president and Democratic leaders have sought. "Party leaders are not my directors or my boss," Bright said after calling for an extension of the Bush tax cuts.
Bright voted against Democrats' $26 billion bailout of unionized public employees, and voted against healthcare reconciliation. In his latest campaign ad, Bright touts his "independent conservative" values, and reminds voters of his opposition to major elements of the Obama agenda, including “massive government healthcare.”
Bright also recently offended some Democrats. Asked about Nancy Pelosi's chances of serving another term as House speaker, he remarked, "Heck, she might even get sick and die." Bright said he was joking and refused to apologize.
Rep. Travis Childers, D-Miss.
— Despite a concerted GOP effort to tie Childers to President Obama since he won a special election in 2008, he has avoided marching lockstep with the national Democratic Party. The representative of Mississippi's 1st Congressional District votes with his party more than 80 percent of the time. But he is also pro-life and pro-Second Amendment. Childers opposed Obama's healthcare proposals, but is on record opposing any repeal of the Obamacare bill. And he joined with fellow blue dog Democrats to oppose the energy cap and trade bill the House passed in 2009. He is also tough on illegal immigration, calling it "a threat to our national security."
Rep. Lincoln Davis, D-Tenn.
— Davis is conservative by Democratic standards, opposed to abortion and gun control. During his first run for Congress, he vowed not to let any Republican "outgun me, outpray me, or outfamily me." Davis proudly states on his website that he is "one of the most independent members of Congress." Davis opposed the recent financial reform bill approved by Congress, saying it "failed to address the fundamental problem that still allows Wall Street institutions to engage in the type of risky practices that caused the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression."
Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, D-S.D
. — As the first woman ever elected to Congress from South Dakota, Herseth Sandlin is accustomed to standing out in a crowd. In November, she'll be counting on her maverick status — she co-chairs the Blue Dog Coalition — to survive a GOP wave election. Herseth Sandlin has opposed most of Obama’s key initiatives, and voted against healthcare reconciliation. In a recent ad, she says she "took on liberal leaders to protect our right to own guns" and fought politicians in both parties "who just wanted to throw money away." The three-term member of Congress won her 2008 re-election with more than 67 percent of the vote.
Rep. Frank Kratovil, D-Md.
— "Since his first days in office in 2009, Kratovil has been critical of Obama’s agenda," John Mercurio, political analyst and Burson-Marsteller media executive, tells Newsmax.
CQ Weekly named him one of the most independent members of Congress, and he was also one of four freshmen congressmen to join the Blue Dog Coalition.
Kratovil was the first Democrat elected to Congress from Maryland's 1st Congressional District in 18 years, beating GOP challenger Andy Harris by just 3,000 votes in 2008. Because his district favored Sen. John McCain by a 19-point margin in 2008, he's considered highly endangered. In November, he'll face off again against Harris.
Rep. Jim Marshall, D-Ga.
— Marshall's father and grandfather were Army generals, and Marshall served in Vietnam as an Airborne ranger. As befits a representative from Georgia's rural 8th District, the former Macon mayor describes himself as an avid hunter and outdoorsman. Marshall, the co-chairman of a new congressional caucus pushing for a balanced budget, recently convened a panel discussion of fiscal conservatives. The keynote speaker for the event was none other than GOP firebrand and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Marshall voted against Obamacare and climate-change legislation, and is a staunch social conservative. But the National Republican Congressional Committee is running ads targeting him, and polls show his GOP opponent, State Rep. Austin Scott, is closing fast.
Rep. Michael E. McMahon, D-N.Y
. — For nearly three decades, the congressional seat representing Staten Island and Brooklyn was in Republican hands. That changed when McMahon was elected in November 2008. McMahon supported the stimulus, but says he's "vehemently opposed" to excessive spending and "leaving our children with a massive debt." He is a member of the New Democratic Coalition, a relatively moderate group of Democrats from regions around the country who are committed to economic growth and a strong national defense. In February 2010, National Journal Magazine voted McMahon the most centrist member in the House.
Rep. Walt Minnick, D-Idaho
— Minnick is so conservative that he holds the notable distinction of being the only Democrat to receive the endorsement of the grass-roots Tea Party Express organization. Minnick rejected the endorsement, however. Political guru Mercurio says Minnick "has served as a Western independent who shares the public's top concerns of runaway spending and big government." He's also been a major pain to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, having voted against the trifecta of healthcare reform, stimulus spending, and cap-and-trade. In June, rumors flourished that Minnick might oppose a Pelosi bid to be re-elected as speaker.
Rep. Heath Shuler, D-N.C.
— Shuler represents a very conservative district, and fortunately for him, he's better at politics than he was at being an NFL quarterback. Shuler, a member of The Family Association of Christians, opposes abortion, gun control, and illegal immigration. He not only voted against healthcare reconciliation but also spoke out against it as "not right." Shuler favored more modest, incremental reforms, and told one North Carolina newspaper: "That is not the way you run Washington. It has to be done in a bipartisan way." Shuler posts a "national debt clock" on his website that clicks off the digits as a couple more million dollars are added to the national debt each minute. Although he is a blue dog, Shuler voted for the H.R. 2454 cap-and-trade energy bill.
Rep. Gene Taylor, D-Miss
. — Taylor, the former skipper of a Coast Guard search and rescue boat, is a blue dog Democrat and political analyst. Mercurio describes him as "a traditional thorn in the side of Democratic leaders" and "a reliable critic of Obama and Pelosi." Last week, he became the first Democrat to sign a petition calling for the repeal of Obamacare. In November, Taylor faces his strongest opponent in years: Marine reservist and GOP state Rep. Steven Palazzo, a member of the Mississippi National Guard. Taylor is strongly pro-life, but may prove vulnerable on taxation. He opposed eliminating the estate or "death tax," and voted against making the Bush tax cuts permanent.
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