Blue Dog History

090811 at 2:57 pm 6 comments


The Blue Dogs are the political descendants of a now defunct-in-name Southern Democratic group known as the Boll Weevils, who played a critical role in the early 1980s by supporting President Ronald Reagan’s tax cut plan. The Boll Weevils, in turn, may be considered the descendants of the Dixiecrats and the “states’ rights” Democrats of the 1940s through ’60s.

“Blue Dog Democrat” is derived from the term “Yellow Dog Democrat.” Former Texas Democrat Rep. Pete Geren is credited for coining the term, explaining that the members had been “choked blue” by “extreme” Democrats from the left. The term is also a reference to the “Blue Dog” paintings of Cajun artist George Rodrigue of Lafayette, Louisiana; the original members of the coalition would regularly meet in the offices of Louisiana representatives Billy Tauzin and Jimmy Hayes, both of whom had Rodrigue’s paintings on their walls. Tauzin and Hayes later switched to the Republican Party. An additional explanation for the term: “A blue dog is our mascot because when dogs are not let into the house, they stay outside in the cold and turn blue,” a reference to moderate and conservative Democrats feeling left out of the Party which they believed had shifted to the political left.

The Blue Dog Coalition was formed in 1994 during the 104th Congress to give more conservative members from the Democratic party a unified voice after the Democrats’ loss of Congress in 1994.

The coalition was notably successful in a special election of February 2004 in Kentucky to fill a vacant seat in the House of Representatives. They were also successful in the November 2004 elections, when three of the five races in which a Democrat won a formerly Republican House seat were won by Blue Dogs. Freshman Blue Dogs in the House are sometimes nicknamed “Blue Pups.”

In 2005, the members of the Blue Dog Coalition voted 32 to 4 in favor of the bill to limit access to bankruptcy protection (S 256).

In the summer of 2009, The Economist magazine said “[t]he debate over health care… may be the pinnacle of the group’s power so far” and quoted Charlie Stenholm, a founding Blue Dog, as saying that “this is the first year for the new kennel in which their votes are really going to make a difference.”

-tip to ES

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Entry filed under: History. Tags: , .

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6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. jcscuba  |  090812 at 4:20 pm

    Good history lesson thanks, J.C.

    Reply
    • 2. hepsy  |  090814 at 3:14 pm

      Mahalo kind sir, and you’re welcome.

      Reply
  • 3. Patriot Watch  |  090814 at 12:38 pm

    where have all the Blue Dogs gone. Sing along if you know the tune

    Reply
    • 4. hepsy  |  090814 at 3:18 pm

      Funny, found myself humming the same tune!
      Maybe the Blue Dogs will cast their votes to make the tune really sing high!
      Mahalo for your comment.
      -aloha!

      Reply
  • 5. dog health problems  |  090903 at 7:58 am

    great story..awesome..

    Reply
    • 6. hepsy  |  090903 at 2:42 pm

      Thank you for your comment.
      -aloha!

      Reply

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