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US Representative Carolyn Bourdeaux is still a Democrat, but…

Losing to McBath 63% to 31% in the newly redrew district was a quick end to the rollercoaster ride of his congressional career, from losing the closest House race in the country in 2018 to defeating Republican Rich McCormick by more than 8,600 votes in two years. later.

Bordeaux’s loss was ultimately a victory for Republicans, who will increase their share of the delegation from eight seats to nine after putting McBath and Bourdeaux on a primary collision course, where only a Democrat could emerge.

And it’s one of several examples across the country of intensifying polarization in Congress, where the moderate House “Blue Dog” Democratic caucus could be cut from 19 to as few as 8.

“My situation was a product of redistricting in the first place,” Bordeaux said. “And then going up against a very famous black woman who had unlimited resources backing her up.”

McBath spent more than $10 million in the primary race against Bourdeaux, who raised about $3.9 million for the contest.

The fact that the newly elected district became much more diverse and progressive made it almost impossible for him to win, he said.

“It was created to be a district of opportunity for minorities. The primary electorate was to be close to 50% black. I knew it was going to be a very uphill battle.”

One thing he doesn’t think cost him his seat was the work he did on Capitol Hill.

His highest-profile moment was also his most controversial. A year ago this week, he joined eight fellow moderates in a showdown against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to separate the popular bipartisan infrastructure bill from the $3 “Build Back Better” bill, 5 billion.

Although progressives warned the measure would doom both measures, the infrastructure bill passed last year with broad support and Build Back Better was reduced to a smaller climate, health and tax bill, which President Joe Biden signed last week to a fanfare from Pelosi.

When he passed in front of the Chamber, the Bordeaux was on the ground cheering him on.

“What a great moment!” she said. “Thank God, after all that.”

Although he said he would have liked the bill to include universal pre-K and expanded Medicaid, he called the measure “Just what the doctor ordered for the economy.”

She points to those two measures, plus securing federal funding for local initiatives and sponsoring a series of district events like job fairs, as her biggest wins in the limited time she’s spent in Congress.

And winning the seat in first place.

“I was the only Democrat in the country to change a seat in 2020,” she said. “The effort we put in also really fueled the victories in the Senate. That was the number one thing I’ve ever accomplished, with the group of people who made this happen.”

But she said her experience, in Congress and in the election, leaves her concerned about the future of electoral politics, where partisan extremes are overrepresented and groups she joined like the Blue Dog Democrats and the Problem Solvers Caucus are being eliminated.

“Our democracy has lost the incentive structure for people to actually solve problems,” he said. “Many of those people who were instrumental in making these bills a reality will be leaving the next Congress.”

He would like to spend time in the future defining what it means to be moderate in any game now.

“The Blue Dogs were originally socially conservative and fiscally responsible Democrats, but I don’t think that really exists,” he said. Instead, he sees moderates lining up around “socially progressive, fiscally responsible” issues.

And he paused for a moment when I asked if, after the last two years, he still considers himself a Democrat.

“I’ve thought about it a lot,” he said.

“Yes. I’m a Democrat. But I think the Democratic Party needs to figure out what this wing looks like. Give some serious thought to how a moderate Democrat, a pragmatic Democrat, is going to function in the party.”

With his time left on Capitol Hill, Bordeaux is working to find work for most of his staff, send casework to McBath’s office and finish one or two more pieces of legislation.

One is his bill to repurpose unused or underused shopping malls for multi-use development and, in a lame duck session, push through bipartisan immigration reform.

“The most harrowing and most difficult set of issues that I deal with is immigration,” he said. “I don’t know if we can pull it off, but there’s definitely a lot of discussion behind the scenes about a bipartisan solution.”

The passage of immigration reform has almost always been torpedoed by members of both parties for fear that it will cost them their seats.

But for Bourdeaux and the other troubleshooters, Blue Dogs, and moderates still left, there really is nothing to lose.

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