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DINO is an acronym meaning "Democrat in Name Only." It refers to the New Democrat Coalition, Blue Dogs and similar Democrats who are more concerned about increasing party influence than standing by the party platform. They often, but not always, are trying to compete in more conservative states by leaning to the right.
Former Georgia Senator Zell Miller is probably a good example of a DINO. He delivered the keynote address of the 2004 Republican convention where he slandered John Kerry and challenged Chris Matthews to a duel. It is most likely that Miller is a Democrat because of the Civil War. Another good example is David Clarke, who is as far to the right as they come and literally ran as a Democrat only to get votes.
Accusations are sometimes made by the party faithful for good reason; they are also made to dissociate the accuser from rhetorical responsibility when it is convenient.
It should be noted that the House of Representatives, at least, is now "perfectly sorted," meaning that the most conservative Democrat is still more liberal than the most liberal Republican, according to all satisfactory measures of such things. This rather screams that there are no DINOs in the House.
Democrats accused of being DINOs
- Senator Mark Begich of Alaska, like Pryor, tended to vote to the right on gun control and other issues.
- Senator Joe Donnelly of Indiana, who won in an upset landslide after the Republican nominee couldn't keep his mouth shut about his extreme views on rape and pregnancy. A member of the Blue Dog Coalition in the House, his voting record is to the left on labor unions, minimum wage, and corporate regulation-related issues and to the right on taxation, defense, abortion, immigration, and gay rights.
- Senator Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota votes to the right on issues like energy, gun control, and drug policy.
- Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, like Ben Nelson, also only voted for the health care law after her state received earmarks. She supports drilling in the Arctic, tax cuts, and repealing the estate tax. Her final act as Senator was to push for the Keystone XL pipeline, which she voted for... and got kicked out in the midterm elections by the people of Louisiana.
- Senator Joe Lieberman may be progressive on many domestic policy issues, but he was one of the most outspoken chickenhawks in Congress, even more so than many Republicans. When he was first elected to the Senate in 1988, he was elected with the endorsement of the Moral Majority and National Rifle Association, running to the right of incumbent Republican (and quintessential RINO) Lowell Weicker. He went as far as endorsing John McCain in 2008 for these reasons, and got significant backlash from his party. Technically, he has been an independent since 2006, but he caucuses with the Democrats on most issues. Hates violent video games and joined Sam Brownback, Hillary Clinton, and Rick Santorum in crafting a Senate resolution condemning Grand Theft Auto after the "hot coffee" moral panic.
- Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia is arguably the most conservative Democrat in the Senate following Ben Nelson and Joe Lieberman's retirements in 2012. Like the former, he mostly votes with his party, but is better known for his television ads shooting — literally — at a copy of the cap and trade bill, and his role in "Democrats for [Republican candidate for governor Cecil] Underwood." In the 2016 elections, Manchin actually said that if the Senate was tied at 50-50 apiece, he would switch to the Republican Party, basically saying "Please give me more right wing money!" as loud as he can. He's quickly gaining infamy for voting for Jeff Sessions, Steve Mnuchin, and other Trump appointees to the Cabinet when the majority (or indeed, the entirety of his party in the Senate) voted against them.
- Senator Mark Pryor of Arkansas, a Blue Dog who votes to the right on gun control among other issues.
- Senator Ben Nelson, though representing a fairly conservative state, remains infamous for only voting for the Affordable Care Act after earmarks were secured for his state.
- Representative Loretta Sanchez of California has voted in favor of deregulated for-profit colleges and against gun control measuers but did vote against the Iraq War and PATRIOT Act.
- Senator Chuck "Death to America" Schumer was endorsed by Harry Reid to be his successor as leader of the Democrats in the Senate. Schumer voted for the Iraq War, supported John Bolton as Ambassador to the UN (who wanted war with Iran), and lately, made common cause with hardliners in Iran chanting "Death to America" by opposing the Iran Deal because of the pro-Israel lobby called AIPAC. A major proponent of the Affordable Care Act, Schumer later said passing it was a mistake. He also blocked a provision that would've closed tax loopholes to hedge fund managers. He also voted for the Defense of Marriage Act, voted against the Vitter Amendment (which prohibited the confiscation of legally owned firearms during a disaster), and sponsored the PROTECT IP Act (which tried to restrict access to web sites judged to be infringing copyrights). Even Wall Street, pro-establishment Blue Dog Democrats, who look at Schumer's brazen opposition to President Obama and support for Benjamin Netanyahu, find it harder and harder to continue supporting Schumer as Reid's successor. Regardless, his successor he has become, being elected Senate Minority Leader in 2016.
- Congressman Charlie Stenholm of Texas, 1978 - 2005. Legendary for his "tractor-seat commonsense" on Agricultural issues, was considered not just the most conservative Texas 'yellow dog', but one, if not the most conservative member of the House. Voted against the Americans with Disabilities Act which Papa Bush proposed and signed. Opposed abortion and gun control. A staunch Republican ally, Stenholm was finally swept out of office when Tom DeLay gerrymandered districts to suit Republicans.
- Sean Sullivan & Kelsey Snell, "Amid deep partisan rancor, Senate confirms Sessions for attorney general", The Washington Post 8 February 2017.
- "How Senators Voted on Steven Mnuchin for Treasury Secretary", The New York Times 13 February 2017.