Oct 30 2009

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“NY-23 – Perception Over Reality”

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  • As a rule, I don’t like third party “purity” candidacies. They have little chance of winning, divide parties and ultimately help deliver victory to the opposing Party.
  • Teddy Kennedy doomed Jimmy Carter in 1980. Pat Buchanan weakened George HW Bush in the primaries in 1992, and Ross Perot split the conservative vote with Bush to make Bill Clinton a plurality winner. And for all those Democrats who still hold venom in your hearts from the chad counting in Florida that came down to a 527 votes, remember that Ralph Nader – not the Supreme Court – was the real spoiler; Nader got 70,000 votes in Florida.  Had he not been on the ballot, there is little doubt where the votes would have gone.
  • Chris Daggett threatens to play the same spoiler role in the New Jersey gubernatorial race, and may yet be the answered prayer for the Corzine campaign.
  • But the special election to fill the congressional seat in NY-23 is different.
  • The race pits Independent turned Democrat Bill Owens against establishment Republican Dede Scozzafava and independent turned Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman. The media have focused on the divide between Scozzafava backers – including Newt Gingrich with those of Hoffman, which include Sarah Palin and Dick Armey. The narrative is that Hoffman represents a strain of extreme conservatism against a more balanced moderation that will be critical to winning more seats in Congress in 2010.
  • But while Big Tent arguments are sound, and purity candidates are distracting, neither of those tenants apply to this race.
  • By virtue of her record, experience and supporters, Dede Scozzafava should be running as a Democrat. Pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, pro-stimulus, pro-card check.  The Assembly woman will neither say how she might vote on a health care plan that includes new taxes and public abortion funding, or even whether she will compete is a Republican primary in 2010 should she win the special election.
  • Hoffman is not a right wing firebrand…he’s the missing ingredient in this race; he is the actual Republican.
  • Gingrich is right that majorities matter and that you can’t have litmus tests for every race if you ever want to win. I strongly opposed conservatives who threatened to opt out of the 2006 congressional races, back third party “purity” candidates or – high treason – vote Democrat because the Congress had not acted to their level of conservatism.
  • In my view, these folks have no idea what governing is about. As Obama and the Democrats are finding now, the purity of the campaign trail is muddied by the realities of legislating and the necessity of compromise.
  • But that is different from what is at play in NY-23.  Hoffman supporters are not insisting on a purer level of conservatism; they want a candidate in the race that will reflect Republican positions as Hoffman clearly does.
  • Hoffman is no conservative maniac. He was opposed to the Obama stimulus, correctly pointing out that its massive cost and piddling impact only hurt the national treasury.  He supports reform to healthcare, but not the vast expansion of government and cost represented by Obamacare. He opposes the tax frenzy and growth crushing Cap N’ Trade bill. He against earmarks and tax increases.  In sum, he looks and sounds a lot like the Republicans who are the last line of defense against Obamism, and who represent the views of a growing number of voters.
  • Yes, Hoffman is pro-life and against gay marriage, and this will no doubt inflame the Left that a Hoffman victory will be the harbinger of a virulent and strident Christian moralism that will sweep the country in 2010; a moralism that they thought they had killed off in 2008. It will no doubt spark a debate in the Republican Party as a whole on the same topic. This is simply nonsense.
  • I don’t support third party candidates, but I support Doug Hoffman.
  • If he loses and Bill Owens becomes Congressman, at least the district will have someone willing to put a “D” next to his name, instead of the stealth Scazzofava candidacy.
  • I realize that backing Hoffman may increase Nancy Pelosi’s already sizable majority, and that Owens will be tougher to beat as an incumbent.  But what you believe in needs to be reflected in your vote.  Practicality cannot devolve to cynicism.
  • Hoffman is not simply a more conservative version of Scozzafava or a single issue conservative looking to drain votes.  He’s the common sense Republican in the race.
  • I can’t vote for him because of my geography. But he gets a campaign donation today.
  • You have to know where you stand to know where you are going.


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