11.23.2010 0

Heath Shuler likely to be sacked in 2012

By Rick Manning

Heath Shuler did the unthinkable and challenged Nancy Pelosi for her crown as queen bee of the House Democrats in a decidedly more liberal and diminished House caucus.

After being overwhelmingly rejected, Shuler and his fellow “Blue Dog” Democrats have a problem, their caucus is going off a cliff, and they have to decide whether to follow them. These self-named “Blue Dogs” purport to advocate fiscal restraint and conservatism. Yet, in the past two years, they had the numbers to stop every single budget-busting measure pushed by Speaker Pelosi, and their failures have led to the nation bleeding red ink like never before in history.

The failed “stimulus” package passed only because of votes from supposed fiscally conservative Blue Dog members.

ObamaCare passed only because of votes from supposed fiscally conservative Blue Dog members.

The $26 billion public employee bailout bill passed only because of votes from supposed fiscally conservative Blue Dog members.

Economy-killing cap and trade legislation passed the House only because of votes from supposed fiscally conservative Blue Dog members.

The fact is that every single item passed by the House of Representatives was due to support from Blue Dog Democrats.

In the November election, the voters in these largely fiscally conservative congressional districts took note that their Blue Dog Democrat Congressional representatives were voting like Nancy Pelosi on fiscal issues, so more than half their ranks were given the Donald Trump You’re Fired treatment.

There is an old saying in the south that the only things in the middle of the road are yellow lines and dead skunks. In D.C. there is a motion on the floor to amend that saying to remove the word skunks and replace it with Blue Dogs.

All of this leads us back to Mr. Shuler, who voted against the failed “stimulus” and ObamaCare, but supported job killing cap and trade and the $26 billion public employee union bailout.

Shuler survived his election in 2010, but he has a problem — redistricting. North Carolina is unlikely to gain an additional congressional seat, and Shuler’s district will be getting about 50,000 more constituents in 2011. The 2010 elections put Republicans completely in charge of who gets added to his district, meaning that his already conservative district is going to get even more Republican.

Unlike a lot of districts, because North Carolina’s 11th district is largely defined by the border between North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia, the gerrymandering is unlikely to be obvious, but the effect will be the same. Fifty thousand new constituents, who Shuler has to try to explain why they should vote for someone who isn’t voting for the same candidate for President as they are.

Given his unwillingness to vote for Pelosi for Speaker, it is safe to guess that Shuler will be benched if he chooses to stay with the Democratic caucus. However, he faces some interesting possibilities if he joins the Republican side of the aisle.

The new Republican voters in his district, will only know him as a Republican, giving him a better opportunity to win in a 2012 primary.

Switching parties would also put Shuler in a position to work constructively on solving the fiscal mess, rather than sitting in the shadows in the deep, dark recesses of being an inconsequential member of the Democratic caucus.

Shuler’s future is dead in the House as long as he remains a Democrat, and with redistricting that future is likely to end in January 2013. His challenge against Pelosi means that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is highly unlikely to expend a dime to help him defend his seat. The Democratic National Committee will be focused upon swing states in the Presidential election — North Carolina is unlikely to be one of these. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee does not have a race in North Carolina in 2012 — no help there.

Big Labor isn’t coming to his rescue. Neither are the many George Soros-funded entities like MoveOn.org.

House Republicans are unlikely to allow him to play a role in shaping their fiscal positions, as they won’t want to allow him any kudos that he could use to gain re-election.

For all intents and purposes, Heath Shuler is a quarterback without an offensive line, who will be sacked for a big loss in 2012 unless he throws a desperation Hail Mary.

Shuler’s Hail Mary is to switch political parties.

If he wants to both make a difference in crafting legislation and have a chance at political survival in 2012, his only logical choice is to declare the Pelosi-led Democratic Party in D.C. to be too liberal for him and join the Republican conference.

The public relations coup for the Republican Party will be enormous, but more importantly, perhaps Shuler can then create a bridge to some of his former Blue Dog colleagues to gain bi-partisan support for the cuts to federal government spending that are necessary to correct our nation’s fiscal course.

After all, someone who professes to be a pro-gun, pro-life fiscal conservative should feel much more at home in the Republican Party than as an outcast Democrat who wouldn’t even be trusted to be the waterboy on his current team.

It really is a simple decision.

Rick Manning is the Director of Communications of Americans for Limited Government.

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