161130-vela_pelosiBROWNSVILLE, RGV – Count U.S. Reps. Henry Cuellar and Filemon Vela among those who are unhappy with the Democratic Caucus leadership in the wake of Democrat losses in the general election.

U.S. Reps. Nancy Pelosi and Henry Cuellar.
U.S. Reps. Nancy Pelosi and Henry Cuellar.

Both Cuellar, D-Laredo, and Vela, D-Brownsville, are members of the Blue Dog Coalition. The group released the following joint statement in reaction to Wednesday’s Democratic Caucus leadership elections and the state of the Democratic Party:

“The last few election cycles have not been good for Democrats. We watched as our party’s membership in the House dwindled from 257 to 193 over the last four cycles. While Blue Dogs currently make up less than 10% of the Democratic Caucus, half of the seats that Democrats flipped this cycle are new Blue Dogs.

“In cycles past, there have been easy scapegoats; there have been faults offered and fingers pointed. This year, however, as Republicans placed the most unpopular candidate in US history at the top of their ticket, Democrats should have handily made significant gains in the House. There is no excuse.  We need a new direction.  We need to broaden our tent, and make fighting for working middle class men and women our top priority.

“In recent years our party’s message has failed because it has failed to prioritize working men and women across this country, many of whom live in rural America and are the good, hardworking people that make up our Blue Dog districts. These are the same people who, as this cycle has proven, are our only path to regaining the majority. If we refuse to realize this as a priority, we are guaranteed to face the same outcome in 2018 and beyond. It’s time we embrace the many voices that make up our Democratic Caucus, with every member playing a role in the future of our party and our country.”

Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying this story shows House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., with Congressman Vela at a news conference in Brownsville in June, 2014. The insert image shows Pelosi and Congressman Cuellar in Washington, D.C., in September, 2012. Both photos were taken by Rio Grande Guardian reporter Steve Taylor.