Politico: Is Nancy Pelosi A 2012 Asset, or Not?

On Monday, Politico asked "Will Pelosi Be A 2012 Asset Or Liability?" This is not a question most national political reporters are asking, as Pelosi has worked hard to be invisible. She and Harry Reid almost never grant TV interviews. Neither Pelosi nor Reid are joked about by comedians who are already seeking to avoid Obama jokes.

But in 2010, Republicans decimated the "Blue Dog" moderate Democrats by waving the Pelosi Majority flag. Reporters Jonathan Allen and Alex Isenstadt reported that another seven moderate Dems are retiring, and others are in no way slam-dunks for re-election:

Three of the four leaders of the moderate Democratic Blue Dog Coalition have announced that they will retire at the end of this year. The latest to leave is Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.), who got a country butt-kicking when he ran against Pelosi for House Democratic leader after the last election.

The argument, made by several sources who called POLITICO without solicitation, goes like this: Even if a moderate can withstand a bad lot in redistricting, raise millions of dollars and overcome ads warning of a second Pelosi speakership, his voice will be ignored in the next Congress.

“What I think is really lost here is a lot of the retirements were preordained the minute Nancy Pelosi decided to run again for speaker,” one retiring centrist said in an interview last week...

Seven of the 25 Blue Dogs who won in 2010 are not seeking reelection this year, including six Blue Dogs who were among the 18 House Democrats who voted for someone other than Pelosi for speaker after she was nominated by her party. A handful of other Blue Dogs, including Reps. Leonard Boswell of Iowa, John Barrow of Georgia and Mike McIntyre of North Carolina, have tough campaigns ahead of them.

Calling these men “moderates” isn’t always quite right. Boswell has an American Conservative Union career score of 23.5, but has landed several zeroes and single digits over the last few years.

What should also be of concern to both the Blue Dogs and Pelosi is the number of relatively young moderates who are retiring from districts that they could win. That list includes Shuler and Reps. Mike Ross of Arkansas, Dan Boren of Oklahoma and Dennis Cardoza of California.

The upshot: In 2009, there were 52 Blue Dogs. By next year, the number could be in the low- to mid-teens.

Tim Graham's picture