The Blue Dog Coalition, commonly known as the Blue Dogs or Blue Dog Democrats, is a caucus of United States Congressional Representatives from the Democratic Party who identify as fiscally-responsible, centrist Democrats. The caucus is not an ideological group but rather a group of Democrats who share a pragmatic approach to governance, an independence from leadership of both parties, and unite on the mission of fiscal responsibility and enhancing national defense. Since its founding, the Coalition's membership has changed but the mission has remained the same. Today, the Coalition primarily consists of Democrats who are socially progressive and fiscally conservative.
The co-chairs for the 116th Congress are U.S. Representatives Anthony Brindisi (NY-22), Lou Correa (CA-46), Stephanie Murphy (FL-07), and Tom O'Halleran (AZ-01). The co-chair for the Blue Dog PAC, the Coalition's political organization, is Rep. Kurt Schrader. Rep. Stephanie Murphy is the first woman of color to lead the Blue Dog Coalition in the organization's history.
Blue Dog Coalition
|Co-Chairs||Anthony Brindisi (NY)|
Lou Correa (CA)
Stephanie Murphy (FL)
Tom O'Halleran (AZ)
|Founded||February 14, 1995|
|Political position||Center-left to center-right|
|National affiliation||Democratic Party|
|Seats in the House|
27 / 435
|Of the Democratic Party Seats|
27 / 235
The term "Blue Dog Democrat" is credited to Texas Democratic Rep. Pete Geren (who later joined the Bush Administration). Geren opined that the members had been "choked blue" by Democrats on the left. It is related to the political term "Yellow Dog Democrat", a reference to Southern Democrats said to be so loyal they would even vote for a yellow dog before they would vote for any Republican. The term is also a reference to the "Blue Dog" paintings of Cajun artist George Rodrigue of Lafayette, Louisiana as the original members of the coalition would regularly meet in the offices of Louisiana representatives Billy Tauzin and Jimmy Hayes, both of whom later joined the Republican Party—both also had Rodrigue's paintings on their walls. An additional explanation for the term cited by members is "when dogs are not let into the house, they stay outside in the cold and turn blue", a reference to the Blue Dogs' belief they had been left out of a party that they believed had shifted to the political left.
Although its membership has not been exclusively Southern, some view the Blue Dogs as the political successors to 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 may in turn be considered the descendants of the Dixiecrats and the "states' rights" Democrats of the 1940s through the 1960s and even the Bourbon Democrats of the late 19th century.
While the Blue Dog Coalition is officially made up of House members, the term "Blue Dog" is sometimes used informally for Democratic senators, governors, or state legislators who resemble the Blue Dog Coalition positions based on their politics.
Freshman Blue Dogs in the House used to be nicknamed "Blue Pups".
The caucus was formed in 1995 during the 104th Congress to give members from the Democratic Party representing conservative-leaning districts a unified voice after the Democrats' loss of Congress in the U.S. Congressional election of 1994 Republican Revolution. Blue Dog Coalition membership experienced a rapid decline in the 2010s, holding 14 seats in the 114th Congress.
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.
In 2007, 15 Blue Dog Coalition Members in safe seats refused to contribute party dues to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. An additional 16 Blue Dogs have not paid any money to the DCCC, but were exempt from party-mandated contributions because they were top GOP targets for defeat in 2008. One reason for the party-dues boycott is contained in remarks made by Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.) encouraging leaders of anti-war groups to field primary challenges to any Democrat who does not vote to end the war in Iraq. Woolsey later stated that she was misunderstood, but the Blue Dogs have continued with the boycott. Donations to party Congressional Committees are an important source of funding for the party committees, permitting millions of dollars to be funneled back into close races.
In the summer of 2009, The Economist newspaper 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".
The Blue Dog Coalition suffered serious losses in the 2010 midterm elections, losing over half of its seats to Republican challengers. Its members, who were roughly one quarter of the Democratic Party's caucus in the 111th Congress, accounted for half of the party's midterm election losses. Including retirements, Blue Dog numbers in the House were reduced from 54 members in 2009 to 26 members in 2011 and two of the Coalition's four leaders (Stephanie Herseth Sandlin and Baron Hill) failed to secure re-election.
Opposition to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and climate change legislation are believed to have contributed to the defeat of two conservative Democrats in the 2012 House elections in Pennsylvania by more liberal opponents.
Following the 2012 House of Representatives elections, the Blue Dog Coalition went from 27 members to 14 members. Speculation ensued that the centrist New Democrat Coalition would fill the power vacuum created by the Blue Dog Coalition's decline.
After the 2018 House of Representatives elections the caucus grew from 18 members to 27 members. All incumbents were re-elected and Rep. Kyrsten Sinema was elected to the Senate in Arizona.  The Coalition has added seven new members who defeated Republicans incumbents in the 2018 election in districts that went to President Trump in 2016.
The Blue Dog Coalition is often involved in searching for a compromise between liberal and conservative positions. The coalition currently has 24 members in the House of Representatives. There is not any mention "in the official Blue Dog materials about social issues". The coalition is fiscally conservative, but does not determine a platform for social issues. The members of the Blue Dog Coalition have changed over the years. Josh Rogin of the Washington Post wrote the following on the organization: "It now includes Northerners, young people and veterans. It is led by an Asian American woman who served in the Pentagon and just won her first reelection in a purple Florida district that supports both gun control and gay rights." 
The Blue Dogs claim they generally work to promote positions within the House of Representatives that bridge the gap between right-wing and left-wing politics. Blue Dogs are an important swing vote on spending bills and as a result have gained influence in Congress out of proportion to their numbers. They are frequently sought after to broker compromises between the Democratic and Republican leadership, generally being swing votes when it comes to voting.
The biggest single source of finance for the Blue Dog Political Action Committee is the health care industry, which donated $1.2 million in the 2009–2010 election cycle. In July 2009, Blue Dog members who were committee members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee successfully delayed the House vote on the Health Insurance Reform Bill (HR3200) until after the Summer Recess. It was during this recess that the term "Obamacare" was first derisively adopted by Republicans on Capitol Hill It is widely proposed that Blue Dog opposition to the "public option" and this recess, with that summer's contentious Town Hall meetings, provided the healthcare law's Republican opponents the opportunity to attack and subsequently get the public option dropped from the original, pre-recess, bill.
New Democrat Coalition
Over the years the Blue Dog Coalition and the New Democrat Coalition have experienced overlap in their membership. Both groups share an identify of pragmatic or centrist Democrats, but they differ on policy focus. The Blue Dog Coalition's primary policy focus is fiscal responsibility and national defense. The New Democrat Coalition's primary policy focus is pro-economic growth and pro-innovation policy.
Founding members were Glen Browder and Bud Cramer of Alabama; Blanche Lambert Lincoln of Arkansas; Gary Condit of California; Nathan Deal of Georgia; William Lipinski of Illinois; Scotty Baesler of Kentucky; Billy Tauzin and Jimmy Hayes of Louisiana; Collin Peterson and David Minge of Minnesota; Michael Parker and Gene Taylor of Mississippi; Pat Danner of Missouri; William K. Brewster of Oklahoma; John S. Tanner of Tennessee; Ralph Hall, Charles Stenholm, Pete Geren and Greg Laughlin of Texas, Bill Orton of Utah; and Lewis F. Payne, Jr. and Owen Pickett of Virginia. Condit (Administration), Peterson (Policy) and Tanner (Communications) were co-chairs (Deal was initially the chair for Policy before he switched parties shortly after the caucus's founding). Browder headed the group's budget task force.
After the Blue Dog Coalition was founded in 1995, the organization saw steady growth in its membership until it reached its peak after the 2008 election. After the 2006 election, the first time the Democrats held the House majority since before the Blue Dogs were founded, the Coalition had 50 members. After the 2008 election, the organization grew to its peak membership at 54. After the 2010 election, the Coalition’s roster decreased to 26 members. In the following years, as Democrats saw continued losses in the House, the Blue Dog membership continued to decline. In 2016, however, the Coalition’s members made over half of the Democrats’ gains in the House. In 2018, for the first time since 2006, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee partnered with the Blue Dog PAC, the Blue Dog Coalition’s political organization, to recruit candidates in competitive districts across the country. The strategy worked. The Blue Dog Coalition grew to 27 members and the Democrats gained its largest House majority since Watergate.
|Term start||Term end||Chair for Administration||Chair for Communications||Chair for Policy|
|February 1995||April 1995||Rep. Gary Condit (CA-18)||Rep. John S. Tanner (TN-8)||Rep. Nathan Deal (GA-9)|
|April 1995||January 1999||Rep. Collin Peterson (MN-7)|
|January 1999||January 2001||Rep. Robert E. Cramer (AL-5)||Rep. Chris John (LA-7)||Rep. Charles Stenholm (TX-17)|
|January 2001||January 2003||Rep. Chris John (LA-7)||Rep. Jim Turner (TX-2)||Rep. Allen Boyd (FL-2)|
|January 2003||January 2005||Rep. Jim Turner (TX-2)||Rep. Baron Hill (IN-9)||Rep. Charles Stenholm (TX-17)|
|January 2005||January 2007||Rep. Jim Matheson (UT-2)||Rep. Dennis Cardoza (CA-18)||Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-5)|
|January 2007||January 2009||Rep. Allen Boyd (FL-2)||Rep. Mike Ross (AR-4)||Rep. Dennis Moore (KS-3)|
|January 2009||October 2009||Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (SD-AL)||Rep. Charlie Melancon (LA-3)||Rep. Baron Hill (IN-9)|
|October 2009||January 2011||Rep. Jim Matheson (UT-2)|
|January 2011||January 2013||Rep. Heath Shuler (NC-11)||Rep. Mike Ross (AR-4)||Rep. John Barrow (GA-12)|
|January 2013||January 2015||Rep. John Barrow (GA-12)||Rep. Kurt Schrader (OR-5)||Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-5)|
|January 2015||January 2017||Rep. Kurt Schrader (OR-5)||Rep. Jim Costa (CA-16)|
|January 2017||January 2019||Rep. Jim Costa (CA-16)||Rep. Henry Cuellar (TX-28)||Rep. Dan Lipinski (IL-3)|
|January 2019||present||Rep. Stephanie Murphy (FL-7)||Rep. Lou Correa (CA-48)||Rep. Tom O'Halleran (AZ-1)|
Alan Bowlby Mollohan (born May 14, 1943) is an American politician who was the U.S. Representative for West Virginia's 1st congressional district from 1983 to 2011. He is a member of the Democratic Party and the Blue Dog Coalition.
The district encompasses the northern part of the state; it is based in Wheeling and includes Parkersburg, Morgantown, Fairmont and Clarksburg. He served on the House Appropriations Committee and was ranking Democrat on the Ethics Committee until being asked to step down in 2006. He was defeated in the Democratic primary election held on May 11, 2010, by Mike Oliverio.Baron Hill (politician)
Baron Paul Hill (born June 23, 1953) is a retired American politician who served as a U.S. Representative for Indiana's 9th congressional district from 1999 to 2005 and from 2007 to 2011.
A native of Seymour, Indiana, Hill is a Democrat, and as a member of Congress belonged to the conservative-leaning Blue Dog Coalition of that party. Hill's district is in the southeastern part of the state, stretching from Bloomington to the Indiana side of the Louisville metropolitan area.Ben McAdams
Benjamin Michael McAdams (born December 5, 1974) is an American politician serving as the U.S. Representative for Utah's 4th congressional district since 2019. A member of the Democratic Party, he previously served as Mayor of Salt Lake County from 2013 to 2019 and the Utah State Senator from the 2nd district from 2009 to 2012, which includes Salt Lake City, South Salt Lake, as well as a portion of West Valley.In 2018, McAdams defeated Republican incumbent Mia Love in the election for U.S. Representative in Utah's 4th congressional district. He won by 694 votes out of over 250,000 votes cast. He is the only Democrat in Utah's congressional delegation and a member of the Blue Dog Coalition.Blue Dog
Blue Dog may refer to:
The Blue Dog Coalition, a group of conservative Democratic Party members of the United States House of Representatives
Blue Dog Lake, a lake in South Dakota
Blue Dog, a painting and a featured icon in various works by George Rodrigue
Blue Dog Records was a London-based independent record label linked to the Barfly club
The Blue Dog, one of the "blue" public houses and inns in Grantham
The Blue Dogs (band), an American band formed in 1987Center Forward
Center Forward is an American political action committee advocating centrist policies in the United States government. The organization has roots in the Blue Dog Coalition of centrist Democrats who hold some common views with Republican counterparts. The organization’s mission is to promote business growth and maintain fiscal responsibility while also promoting meaningful reforms. After the Blue Dog Coalition whittled in members, the organization was founded to promote more centrist views among the party. Blue Dog members have noted that Center Forward could be the path towards the return of a Democratic majority.Center Forward has endorsed various politicians, including John Barrow in Georgia’s 2014 elections.Center Forward reportedly spent $1 million on national television ads promoting a bipartisan approach to balancing the budget. It is chaired by former Democratic Representative Bud Cramer.Dan Lipinski
Daniel William Lipinski (born July 15, 1966) is an American politician who has served as the U.S. Representative for Illinois's 3rd congressional district since 2005. His father, Bill Lipinski, held the seat from 1993 to 2005. The district encompasses parts of southwestern Chicago as well as much of its southwestern suburbs.
Born in Chicago, Lipinski attended Northwestern, Stanford and Duke universities, earning degrees from all three before interning at the United States Department of Labor, and later for Representative George E. Sangmeister from 1993 to 1995. Lipinski worked for Richard A. Devine's 1996 campaign for Cook County State Attorney, and later for then-Representative Rod Blagojevich and House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt. He taught at the University of Notre Dame from 2000 to 2001 and at the University of Tennessee from 2001 until his election to the House of Representatives in 2004.
Lipinski has a reputation as one of the most conservative Democrats in the House. He is a member of the centrist Blue Dog Coalition and is known for his willingness to work with Republicans on certain issues. Lipinski opposes abortion and stem cell research, was the only House Democrat to vote against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, supported reauthorizing the Patriot Act in 2006, supported the Defense of Marriage and First Amendment Defense Acts, and voted against the Equality Act. He has alleged that the Democratic Party is turning too far to the left, attributing Democrats' losses in 2014 and 2016 to that, and has said the party needs to be "an inclusive, big-tent party." Democrats have frequently excoriated Lipinski for his conservative record, with many endorsing his primary opponent in 2018. Nevertheless, Lipinski has been reelected six times.Heath Shuler
Joseph Heath Shuler (born December 31, 1971) is an American businessman, former NFL quarterback and former U.S. Representative for North Carolina's 11th congressional district from 2007 to 2013. He was a member of the Democratic Party and the Blue Dog Coalition.
During his years in Congress, Shuler was known for challenging the leadership of his party, which he believed had moved too far to the left. In 2010, he ran against Nancy Pelosi for the post of Minority Leader. He believed the challenge would add to his prominence as a leader of conservative and moderate Democrats. He was one of the leaders of the Blue Dog Democrats, whose numbers were severely reduced by Republican gains in the 2010 midterm elections. This left him with a lower profile in the national media than he had previously enjoyed.
Shuler's congressional district covered the Blue Ridge Mountains in western North Carolina; the largest city in the district is Asheville, which has voted strongly Democratic, in part influenced by retirees from northern and midwestern areas. On February 2, 2012, after the Republican-dominated legislature had redrawn boundaries of the 10th and 11th congressional districts, removing half of Asheville and making the district more Republican in terms of voter history, Shuler announced his retirement from the House. He did not seek re-election to a fourth term.Jim Cooper
James Hayes Shofner Cooper (born June 19, 1954) is an American politician serving as the U.S. Representative for Tennessee's 5th congressional district (based in Nashville), serving since 2003. He is a member of the Democratic Party, the Blue Dog Coalition and previously represented Tennessee's 4th congressional district from 1983 to 1995.Jim Costa
James Manuel Costa, ComM (born April 13, 1952) is the U.S. Representative for California's 16th congressional district, serving as a Democrat in Congress since 2013, having previously represented California's 20th congressional district from 2005 to 2013. The district includes most of Fresno. He previously served in the California State Assembly from 1978 until 1994, and in the State Senate from 1994 until 2002. At the time of his election to the California State Legislature, he was the youngest member of the legislature at the age of 26. During his time in the California State Assembly, he served as the Majority Caucus Chair. Costa is chair of the Blue Dog Coalition and ranking member of the United States House Agriculture Subcommittee on Rural Development, Research, Biotechnology, and Foreign Agriculture.Joe Cunningham (American politician)
Joseph Kendrick Cunningham (born May 26, 1982) is an American attorney and politician from the state of South Carolina. He is a member of the United States House of Representatives for South Carolina's 1st congressional district. A member of the Democratic Party, Cunningham defeated Republican Katie Arrington in the 2018 general election.Kendra Horn
Kendra Suzanne Horn (born June 9, 1976) is an American attorney, politician, and activist representing Oklahoma's 5th congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives, since 2019. The district includes almost all of Oklahoma City.
Horn, a Democrat, defeated two-term incumbent Republican Steve Russell to is the first Democrat to represent the 5th in 44 years and the first Oklahoma Democrat elected to Congress in eight years. She is also the third woman elected to Congress from Oklahoma, after Alice Robertson and Mary Fallin, and the first Democratic congresswoman from Oklahoma.Kurt Schrader
Walter Kurt Schrader (born October 19, 1951) is an American politician who has been the U.S. Representative for Oregon's 5th congressional district since 2009. He is a member of the Democratic Party and previously served in both houses of the Oregon Legislative Assembly.Libertarian Democrat
In American politics, a libertarian Democrat is a member of the Democratic Party with political views that are relatively libertarian compared to the views of the national party.While other factions of the Democratic Party are organized in the Congress, like with the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Blue Dog Coalition and the New Democrat Coalition, the libertarian faction is not organized in such a way. Nevertheless, groups made up of the party membership such as the Democratic Freedom Caucus do exist. Established in 1996 by Hanno Beck, Mike O'Mara and Andrew Spark, the caucus maintains a platform, a list of principles and a guide for activists. The group's leadership currently includes 40 state chairs and regional representatives.List of members of the Blue Dog Coalition
This is a List of members of the Blue Dog Coalition.
Blue Dog membership was nearly cut in half by the 2010 election, in which 26 members were re-elected but 28 were either defeated or chose not to run for re-election.
Blue Dog membership was nearly cut in half again for the 113th Congress. Of the 27 Blue Dogs, 3 resigned (Giffords, Cardoza and Harman), while 10 chose not to run for re-election or were defeated. Of the remaining 14 members Adam Schiff left the coalition, but Pete Gallego (Texas), Kyrsten Sinema (Arizona), Ron Barber (Arizona), Nick Rahall (West Virginia), Dan Lipinski (Illinois), and Cheri Bustos (Illinois) joined them for the 113th Congress.
Freshman Blue Dogs in the House are sometimes nicknamed "Blue Pups".Lou Correa
Jose Luis Correa (born January 24, 1958 in Anaheim, California) is an American politician who is the U.S. Representative for California's 46th congressional district. A Democrat, he served as a member of the California State Senate, representing the 34th Senate District.
A graduate of Anaheim High School, Correa earned a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Cal State Fullerton as well as a Juris Doctor and Master of Business Administration from UCLA. He was an investment banker, a real estate broker, and a college instructor.Mikie Sherrill
Rebecca Michelle "Mikie" Sherrill (born January 19, 1972) is an American Democratic politician, a former United States Navy helicopter pilot, and a former federal prosecutor who has served as the U.S. Representative for New Jersey's 11th congressional district since 2019. The district includes a swath of exurban and rural areas west of New York City. Sherrill was elected on November 6, 2018, defeating the Republican nominee, New Jersey Assemblyman Jay Webber.Norman Sisisky
Norman Sisisky (June 9, 1927 – March 29, 2001) was a Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives from Virginia from 1983 to 2001, representing the 4th District. He was a leader of the Blue Dog Coalition and one of the most conservative Democrats in Congress at the time.Scott Murphy
Matthew Scott Murphy (born January 26, 1970) is an American entrepreneur and a former U.S. Representative for New York's 20th congressional district, having served a portion of one term from April 2009 until January 2011. He is a member of the Democratic Party and during his term was a member of the Blue Dog Coalition in Congress. He was defeated in his attempt to attain election to a full term on November 2, 2010. Prior to re-districting in 2013 after the 2010 census, the 20th district centered on much of the eastern portion of New York's Capital District.Tom O'Halleran
Thomas Charles O'Halleran (; born January 24, 1946) is a member of the United States House of Representatives, representing Arizona's 1st congressional district. Beginning his political career as a Republican, he serves as a member of the Democratic Party.