The House Democratic leadership is using federal spending to boost the reelection prospects of the Blue Dog Coalition — including freshman Rep. Bobby Bright (D-Ala.).
Nearly $200 million worth of earmarks has gone to Blue Dog members — including $150 million in the military construction appropriations bill and over $44 million in the transportation bill, The Hill's Alexander Bolton reports.
Bright, a top GOP target, has captured a large chunk of the money for projects in his conservative, heavily military district. He won eight earmarks in the two spending bills worth more than $76 million; the money went to upgrades at Fort Rucker and Maxwell Air Force Base.
Bright defended the move. "Supporting worthwhile projects for your district and advocating for deficit reduction are not mutually exclusive," he told Bolton.
Arizona Rep. Jeff Flake (R) scoffed. "Why is it that only vulnerable Democrats know their districts better than people in the administration?" he said. "It's an artifice."
Appearing as an advocate for federal spending is risky this year because voters are once again concerned about the size of the deficit. It's questionable, though, whether Bright's Republican opponent, Montgomery City Councilwoman Martha Roby, will be able to capatilize on his role in the government outlay. With much of the money going toward military infrastructure in the district, the investment may prove unassailable — and a boost to the Democrat.