Blue Dog PAC Co-Chair Kurt Schrader on Mod Dems’ Fight to Take Back the House
Oregon Rep. Kurt Schrader talks politics, candidates and the fight to restore sanity to Congress
On a hot June day in 2017, nearly a year after the election of President Trump, a group of moderate Democrats gathered in a conference room in Washington, DC to discuss what they felt was a groundswell of support for their party heading into the 2018 midterm elections. At the top of the agenda: How to harness the enthusiasm in districts across the country in a way that would lead to general election victories in 2018. One thing was clear, in order to take back the majority from what they deemed a dysfunctional Republican leadership in the House, they would have to work together.
Over a year later, the center-left wing of the party has implemented a highly coordinated and competitive strategy to take back control of the House after nearly a decade in the minority.
Recently,The Well Newssat down with Congressman Kurt Schrader, Co-Chair of the Blue Dog Coalition Political Action Committee, to discuss the upcoming midterm elections, the candidates running in the toughest districts, and the future of the Democratic Caucus in the House of Representatives.
The Oregon congressman has long been a champion of sensible, pragmatic policies, regularly working across the aisle with his Republican colleagues to address everything from healthcare to the nation’s agriculture and energy policies. Elected to the House of Representatives in 2008, Schrader was one of the few moderate Democrats to survive the Republican wave fueled by enthusiasm over the Tea Party movement. He has since emerged as a leader among center-left members of Congress and a trusted mentor to many of the Democratic candidates hoping to win back Republican seats this November.
On Blue Dog-endorsed candidates:
KS: We’ve got 20 candidates we’ve endorsed. We’re all running in Republican districts. Purposefully, working with the DCCC, we took the toughest of the tough districts out there that we need to win because these are the seats that will determine whether or not Democrats take back the House in November. Virtually everyone on the list has a great shot at his or her district. We started off with 14 out of the 20 being solid Republican according to the Cook Report. Only three are solid Republican at this point. So I think that speaks volumes about the races our respective candidates are running. Blue Dog leadership has worked closely with the different candidates asking questions, contributing to campaigns, making sure they don’t make some of the faux pas we’ve made over the years.
On winning in Republican-held seats:
KS: Focus on that local race and individual spot, and that’s your sweet spot. Care about that congressional district, that state and not about all this gibberish here in Washington, DC. And that’s been successful. These candidates have navigated these cases through primaries. They understand there is a left wing of the party. We also understand there is a moderate wing of the party.
On working with his progressive colleagues:
KS: Since the first time I’ve been in Congress – in my 10 years – this is the first time I’ve really felt, frankly, very welcome by the progressive wing of our caucus. They know they need more members like me to get the majority. And that’s a welcome change. It’s a sea change from where it used to be.
On how Blue Dog-endorsed candidates will win:
KS: There are really qualified candidates. A lot of veterans in here, male and female, folks that have previous legislative experience. These people are prominent in their state assemblies and state legislatures. They’ve got a good story to tell. These men and women don’t have a theology; they care about their districts, and that’s what people want. These candidates are all bipartisan, willing to work across the aisle to break the gridlock and dysfunction in DC. In this cycle in particular, being genuine and being real, that’s what counts more than your position. A lot of candidates are that way.
Blue Dog endorsed candidates include:
Anthony Brindisi (NY-22)
Paul Davis (KS-02)
Ron DiNicola (PA-16)
Gretchen Driskell (MI-07)
Mel Hall (IN-02)
MJ Hegar (TX-31)
Chris Hunter (FL-12)
Brendan Kelley (IL-12)
Kathy Manning (NC-13)
Ben McAdams (UT-04)
Dan McCready (NC-09)
Frank McNeill (NC-08)
Max Rose (NY-11)
Mac Schneider (ND-AL)
George Scott (PA-10)
Xochitl Torres Small (NM-02)
Abigail Spanberger (VA-07)
Clarke Tucker (AR-02)
Jeff Van Drew (NJ-02)
Denny Wolff (PA-09)
Representative Kurt Schrader has represented Oregon’s 5th congressional district since 2009. A small business owner and farmer for more than thirty years, he is a member of the Democratic Party and previously served in both houses of the Oregon Legislative Assembly.
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