Better Blue Dog than New Democrat?

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After our report last week about the hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions flowing from the energy, financial services, and health care sectors to the Blue Dog Democrats’ political action committee, a number of people have asked us about the other group of centrist Democrats in the U.S. House, the 68-member New Democrat Coalition (NDC).

The New Democrats, founded in 1997, aim to be the pro-growth, moderate voice within their party — less of a singular focus than the balanced-budget advocates in the Blue Dogs Coalition. An aide to the NDC describes the group as “committed to enacting policies that empower U.S. economic growth and competitiveness, promote stability for American families and businesses, and encourage innovative technological advancements.” Given the group’s business-friendly mandate and middle-of-the-road membership, it seems that the New Democrat Coaliton’s political action committee’s hauls would be booming too.

But the numbers tell a different story. A look at their public filings, obtained via CQ MoneyLine and analyzed by PaperTrail, reveals that NDC’s PAC took in just more than half of what the Blue Dog PAC raised in a similar time period: $1.5 million in 2007-2008, compared to the Blue Dogs $2.6 million; $410,000 through April 20 of this year, compared to $781,500 for the Blue Dogs. With looser membership restrictions and a wider range of members (including some New Democrats who double as Blue Dogs and some who serve in the liberal Congressional Progressive Caucus), the NDC appears not to be as visible a power broker as its canine counterpart.

The sources of their contributions are quite familiar though: more than 60 percent of the New Democrat PAC’s contributions come from energy, financial services, and health care sector PACs — a trio that comprised 54 percent of funding for the Blue Dogs this year.

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