As lawmakers, activists, hacks and flacks alike wait with bated breath for the Supreme Court’s imminent opinion on the constitutionality of the Democrats’ health care law, expected to be revealed on Thursday, Washington’s lingering crop of Blue Dog Democrats are laying the markers for rough re-election bids.
Some are weighing whether to attack the court or the conservatives who fomented the decision, but all are increasingly desperate to move past it. The Blue Dogs were complicit in Obamacare’s adoption, and any reminder of that complicity is a nuisance to their efforts to feign moderation.
No one understands this better than embattled Georgia Congressman John Barrow. Facing a redrawn district that favors Republicans (just 44% of its vote went to Obama in 2008), Barrow is struggling to balance the liberal interests backing his campaign with the political realities of rural Georgia. Like former Blue Dog Jim Marshall, who represented a neighboring Georgia district until his defeat in 2010 by Republican Austin Scott, Barrow voted against Obamacare but has refused to say that he will vote to repeal it. Scott defeated Marshall in a district that gave a similar percentage of the vote to Obama in 2008, and he did so by vowing to fight for Obamacare’s repeal and railing against Marshall’s vote for the 2009 stimulus package. In all likelihood, Barrow will face a similar refrain this fall.