Blue Dogs rule?

At an Aug. 26 luncheon sponsored by the Council of Independent Business Owners, Rep. Heath Shuler emphasized his credentials as a moderate "Blue Dog" Democrat who’s willing to buck both parties to do what he thinks is best for the country. Touting his efforts to bring jobs to the region, lower the deficit and reinstate pay-as-you-go budgeting, the two-term 11th District representative, who's up for re-election this year, also hinted at a possible bid for speaker of the House.

And though Shuler said his party may lose seats in the midterm elections, the former football star sees advantages for his Blue Dog caucus.

"The margins [between parties] will narrow after this next election. And I truly feel that … the Blue Dogs will have the opportunity to run this country," he predicted. "Because how can legislation pass without us? We are the deciding vote. … Blue Dogs represent how 80 percent of Americans feel."

Asked whether he supports Nancy Pelosi as speaker of the House, Shuler expressed interest in running for the position himself.

"Who have I been talking about running our country? The middle. So I haven't ruled out the idea that I might not run," he revealed. "We'll see who's actually up for it and who decides to put their hat in the ring. You never know, maybe a Blue Dog will make it."

All together now

Shuler arrived at Magnolia’s in downtown Asheville from a job fair he co-sponsored at A-B Tech, which he said showcased 60 corporations looking to hire 500 new workers.

"I couldn't be more thrilled about that, to be able to unite our business leaders together with potential employees," he told about 100 attendees as they finished plates of fried chicken and mashed potatoes.

Shuler said he’d also met with Hunter Goosmann of ERC Broadband to congratulate the regional nonprofit on landing $15 million in federal stimulus funds to build and maintain more than 100 miles of fiber-optic cable throughout Western North Carolina. He praised the program as the kind of cooperative measure he will continue to fight for if reelected

"Here's an opportunity for a group of people who may have been pulling the rope in two different directions, and we brought everybody in and we sat down and said: 'How can we do this together? How can we put broadband throughout this community and everyone pull the rope in the same direction?'" said Shuler. "And now millions of dollars will flow into this community based on the broadband expansion we're going to have."

Neck and neck?

That same day, Real Clear Politics released a poll showing Shuler holding only a one-point advantage over Republican challenger Jeff Miller. Asked about it, however, Shuler showed little concern.

"I kind of focus on the issues that we've done that have put us in the position that we are, representing our district and making our district grow," he told Xpress. "I'm really focused on what we're doing. … I'm not looking at any opponent that I've had, at their issues. I look at what we can do and do better."

Shuler also responded to a number of written questions from the audience. Here are a few of them:

If given the opportunity to vote on repeal of “ObamaCare," how would you vote?
: “Well, obviously, if President Obama is still there, he would have to overturn his own legislation, and I don't think that's going to happen. … I believe that health care should be reformed but not in the manner in which it was done. …

“I think there's so much waste, fraud and abuse within the current system that we have that it would pay for those who don't have the opportunity to have health insurance.”

What can you contribute to the effort to get a comprehensive climate-change bill passed next session?

“Continuing to purchase petroleum from our enemies is not the right answer. It's a national-security issue.

“And whether you agree or disagree on the issue, here's the way I look at it: The Good Lord has given us the world as we know it as of today: our mountains, our streams. He has blessed us. And I want to be able to make sure that the next generation has the same natural beauty that we have and the same assets that we're able to have here.”

Do you want to continue the tax cuts put through by the Bush administration?

“Before we can have the discussion about it, we have to ensure that we cut as much as we possibly can — the waste, fraud and abuse — out of the federal budget. … You have to get control of your expenses first. Because if you don't get control of your expenses, you have to raise revenues, and that's unacceptable.

“We cannot continue the path that the Bush administration took with expenses, and we can't continue the path that the Obama administration has taken when it comes to increasing expenditures year in and year out.”

— Jake Frankel can be reached at 251-1333, ext. 115, or at

About Jake Frankel
Jake Frankel is an award-winning journalist who enjoys covering a wide range of topics, from politics and government to business, education and entertainment.

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8 thoughts on “Blue Dogs rule?

  1. UnaffiliatedVoter

    Be sure and send this article to Nancy Pelousi’s office!

  2. Johnny

    Why do we have to hear about what “the Good Lord” did all the time, and how “He blessed us”?

    I’m fine with Mr. Shuler believing in the supernatural cult called Christianity, but I’m not sure I need to hear about it.

    When it comes to tackling climate change we’ll need more actual science and clever engineering solutions than references to the Christian God.

  3. Piffy!

    i love all his vague responses on health care.

    no concrete solutions. no specifics.

  4. Iheartfootball

    Shuler’s talk about replacing Pelosi is cheap and hollow. He’s trying to keep his conservative voters, who view Shuler’s vote for Pelosi as SOH as a hangable offense.
    I’m a registered Dem who will be skipping that particular part of the ballot: Shuler vs. Miller. While I couldn’t bring myself to vote for Miller, I’d rather have Shuler replaced and then run another strong Dem against a 1-term Miller. Shuler is just going to spend the next term monkeying up the works for Dems, esp. if the GOP takes back Congress or makes significant gains.

  5. Ervin Roberts

    Shukler for sure aint going to be Speaker. Because he won’t even be in congress after Novemebr’s election. Jeff Miller of Hendersonville will defeat Shuler, who actually has been living and working in East Tennessee since he went to UT. Shukler only established “residency” here to run for office. But mountain people are not so easily fooled…twice that is. We just had gotten tired of his incumbant opponent.

  6. mule

    What a pig. Jeff Miller’s even worse; but at least he doesn’t yammer on and on about the “Blue Dogs”.

  7. Bob Swanson

    I also like Jeff Miller to beat Heath Shuler. Jeff is a moderate republican from Hendersonville. He has never been a politician, which is a very good thing these days in my book. We have a chance with Jeff, a decent regular citizen, not a lawyer or professional politician!

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