Conservatives are tearing themselves apart in the special election in NY-23. They’re being pulled between two right-wing candidates, thus giving the Democrat an unexpected boost in this traditionally Republican-leaning district.
Here’s the background: Republican Congressman John McHugh was tapped by President Obama to become Secretary of the Army, so this election will determine who will take his seat in Congress and finish out the remainder of his term.
The Democratic candidate is attorney Bill Owens, while the Republican candidate is State Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava. There is also a third-party candidate, the Conservative Party’s Doug Hoffman.
Right-wingers have soured on Scozzafava, portraying her as too moderate for their tastes. Because of that, many of them are now flocking to Hoffman; in fact, some conservatives are going as far as urging the GOP to drop Scozzafava and back Hoffman.
And as outlandish as it seems to encourage the Republican Party to ditch a Republican candidate in favor of a third-party upstart, it’s worth noting that the RNC hasn’t put any money into NY-23, not even the customary $5,000 that all Congressional candidates get. So the RNC may not be backing Hoffman, but they’re certainly not helping Scozzafava one bit.
Plus, this is New York. Moderate Republicans tend to be the only viable Republicans around, even upstate. And you think the GOP would be embracing moderate candidates considering that they’ve lost 6 NY Congressional seats since 2006. (NY-13, NY-19, NY-20, NY-24, NY-25 & NY-29).
Instead, it looks like the right is deploying the Club for Losers strategy, where they push out viable moderates in favor of hardcore conservatives, thus ensuring a Democratic victory. And that strategy has been hugely successful—for Democrats, that is. In fact, replacing moderate Republicans with Democrats is the foundation of the current Democratic Congressional majority.
And that’s exactly what’s happening here—recent polling shows Democrat Bill Owens with the lead over both Scozzafava and Hoffman:
Owens 33 (+5 vs. last poll, Oct. 1)
Scozzafava 29 (-6)
Hoffman 23 (+7)
The GOP’s ‘big tent’ is looking smaller and smaller by the day, as conservatives repeatedly tell moderates that they have no place in their Party. But hey, I’m not going to turn my nose up at having another Democrat in Congress.
UPDATE: You know what the funniest part of this is? According to a recent analysis of the voting habits of state legislators, Dede Scozzafava is actually more conservative than your average New York Republican:
Scozzafava’s score puts her in the 58th percentile of her party, which makes her slightly more conservative than the average Republican legislator in Albany, so she’s a conservative in her [state] party.
And yet, Scozzafava is still too ‘liberal’ for the GOP. Hilarious.