Blue Dogs have 'no communication' with Pelosi, Dem leadership, says Shuler

There's been "no communication" this Congress between House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and members of the centrist Blue Dog Coalition, one of its top members said Monday.

Rep. Heath Shuler (N.C.), who challenged Pelosi for the job of Democratic leader in the 112th Congress, suggested that Blue Dog Democrats feel shut out from the leadership in the House.

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"There has really been no communication whatsoever," Shuler told MSNBC. "We still do not have any connection between the Blue Dogs and leadership."

In perhaps the ultimate rebuke to the Democratic leader, Shuler said Blue Dog Democrats often have more in common ideologically with former President Ronald Reagan than with Pelosi. What would have been Reagan's 100th birthday prompted remembrances over the weekend.

More than two dozen Blue Dogs were defeated in the 2010 midterm elections, leaving House Democrats with a more liberal caucus. Shuler has sought to take a leading role in opposition to Pelosi, the former House Speaker who decided to remain in charge of the party as its minority leader. 

"All Democrats will measure every proposal by whether it creates jobs, reduces the deficit and strengthens the middle class and we will work with all members of the caucus to achieve these critical goal," said Nadeam Elshami, a spokesman for Pelosi.

"It's very rare that she would come to any of our meetings, and have conversation," Shuler said of Pelosi, adding that Democrats feel more comfortable having Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) or Assistant Democratic Leader James Clyburn (S.C.) visit their districts.

A Democratic source also pointed to efforts by Pelosi and the party leadership to give centrists in the House greater access to the levers of power. Shuler and several other Blue Dogs were named to the Steering Committee, and members of the coalition were given larger roles in leadership. (Rep. Jim Matheson (D-Utah) was named a chief deputy whip, and Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) was given responsibility for messaging on the budget.)

Pelosi's also had personal conversations, over the phone or in-person, with 15 of the 26 members of the Blue Dog bloc during the recent congressional break, per that Democratic source. There's also regular contact between Pelosi and other leadership staff and members of the Blue Dog staff.

Members of the Blue Dog Coalition will gather to discuss their priorities for the coming Congress, and former President Clinton will be among the speakers, according to Shuler. 


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Updated 12:13 p.m.