The Blue Dog PAC has tapped Andrew Whalen, a former top adviser to Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.), to head its political operations heading into the 2012 cycle, and charged him with expanding the coalitions grassroots and new media efforts.

Republicans picked off many centrist and conservative Democrats — called "Blue Dogs" — when they took control of the House in 2010, leaving a smaller contingent of more liberal Democrats in office. Aggressive campaigning in centrist districts is a key component of the Democratic playbook to flip the 25 seats they need to take back control of the lower chamber.

“As the extremes on the right and the left fight for their own interests, the interests of the American people are being left behind, said Rep. Jim Matheson (D-Utah), co-chairman of the Blue Dog PAC. “With this expanded operation, Blue Dogs will be better equipped to recruit, endorse and support candidates in the 2012 election who are committed to fiscal responsibility, everyday American values and commonsense measures that help businesses grow.”

Whalen, a campaign veteran, has also served as executive director of the North Carolina Democratic Party.