I'm not sure whether the term Yellow Dog Democrat originated in the South or not, but I first heard it in Jacksonville, Florida. A friend of mine drawled, "Ah'd rathah vote for a yeller dawg than a Republican." (Apologies for writing badly in faux Southern dialect.)
I thought of the term because Democrats in Fairfax are going through several upheavals as we head into our reorganizational meeting next week. In addition, we now have three announced candidates for the 11th District Congressional race in November 2008.
Leslie Byrne, Doug Denneny, and Gerry Connolly are all good candidates. And all have sometimes sharply different visions of where the Democratic Party and Fairfax County should be heading. Because of that, over the next several months there will be very spirited debates. There will be controversy.
All of that is good. It's healthy to have lively and even heated debate on the issues about which we all care passionately. I don't know any other way to live but with passion for causes and issues. Those are two of the things for which I have the greatest enthusiam.
But even more than that, I feel deeply and passionately about the the value of the Democratic Party. There are core principles that we share that go deeper than the things that divide us. Because of that, I will work my tail off for Leslie Byrne. I will type my fingers until they are raw blogging on her behalf, and I will fry my brain trying to find original and clever ways of phrasing these things.
But one thing I will not do in this primary is tear down any other candidate or, especially, blow up a bridge back to whoever the eventual nominee is. That's because whomever we pick will probably represent my views far better than anybody the Republicans come up with. That's especially true if Tom Davis doesn't run.
He is the last semi moderate standing in Virginia Republican politics. I know very well that he runs as a moderate and then follows his party's line more often than he'd like his district to realize. Nevertheless, if he chooses to retire from the House, the Republicans are not in a bi-partisan or compromising mood. I expect them to tack hard right. And quite frankly, the 11th CD does not need to elect somebody whose politics is far to the right of the electorate just because the Democrats decided to crash and burn in the general election.
And we don't need to do that.
Of course I hope Leslie wins the November primary. And if she does, I don't want to be the one who so horribly offended Doug Denneny or Gerry Connolly that their supporters walk away from us. And you know what, if one of them wins, I pledge not to walk away either.
That needs to be said and said early. Because at heart, I am a Yellow Dog Democrat and I'm damned proud of it!