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Saturday, October 24, 2009

A House Divided in NY 23

It's hard to put into a box just who is supporting Dede Scozzafava in New York's 23rd special election and who is supporting Doug Hoffman in the same. At first, I thought it was the so called establishment supporting Scozzafava and those on the outside looking in supporting Hoffman. Yet, how do you explain the likes of Rick Santorum and Michelle Bachmann supporting Hoffman? I thought it was the conservatives in support of Hoffman and party loyalists in support of Scozzafava? How do you explain Newt Gingrich supporting Scozzafava?

In fact, what's remarkable about this race is two things, 1) you can't put into a box those who support Scozzafava and those who support Hoffman and 2) the race has unnecessarily taken on more significance than it ever needed to take on. This isn't the first special election and most aren't this controversial. In fact, here in the 5th district of Illinois we had one right after the election when Rahm Emanuel, who then held it, went on to become Chief of Staff in the White House. Both the Democrats and the Republicans held a primary and eventually Mike Quigley replaced Emanuel.

Therein lies the first problem. Dede Scozzafava wasn't chosen by the voters but rather in a dark room by power brokers. Insiders seem to never learn. When you choose someone in secret, with no transparency, the voters revolt. Such a corrupted process almost always leads to a flawed choice. For reasons that are still unclear, party insiders chose a moderate if not flat out liberal, Dede Scozzafava, for a seat that has comfortably gone to a Republican since 1871.

The race in 5th District took on almost no national signifcance. Plenty of local Democrats and Republicans ran. The people had a vote and a new Congressman was elected. In fact, about 10% of the registered voters voted. The race couldn't have been less interesting. This one has received attention from coast to coast. It starts with the process and ends with the selection of Scozzafava.

Dede Scozzafava has become the symbol, for many Conservatives, for what is wrong with the Republican Party. The Tea Party movement has decided to draw a line in the sand and flex its muscle electorally. Political heavyweights like Fred Thompson, Sarah Palin, and Dick Armey have all weighed in. Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney have been asked to weigh in. You'd think that we are nominating the president with all the attention of this race. Instead, it's a special election for the New York 23rd District of the U.S. Congress. Even after elected, this same person will have to be reelected in a year.

The consequences of this race can't be minimized. At some point, the Minuteman movement also decided to flex its electoral muscle. They backed Randy Graff in Arizona and Graff got crushed. JD Hayworth allied himself with the Minutemen and he is now a talk radio host. From there, the Minutemen became a marginalized group. That's what is at stake with the Tea Party movement. If this race goes to Hoffman, then the Tea Party movement has moved from an organizational force to an electoral force. If Hoffman loses, then the Tea Party movement will go the way of the Minuteman movement.

Meanwhile, if Scozzafava loses, what does that do the Republican establishment. If Scozzafava loses then the Republican establishment has no credibility electorally. If a candidate beats their candidate and they do it using all outside resources then the Republican establishment has little electoral power. If that's the case, what is the future of the party at large? If the Tea Party movement becomes the driving force in the Republican Party how will that transform the party? Those are all questions that remain unanswered but they'll need to be asked because of the dynamic of New York's 23rd.

1 comment:

Jason Gillman said...

"If Hoffman loses, then the Tea Party movement will go the way of the Minuteman movement."

umm actually..

Not saying you miss the point but.. There is an underlying truth.

The "tea party movement" Wins if Scozzafava loses at all. No matter the outcome. It demonstrates the influence of the conservative movement.. PERIOD.

Republican establishment will be quicker to heel when this is all over. That is why it has gained such importance.

Scozzafava will lose. Conservatives win.

I made my contribution to Hoffman's campaign. I know plenty of others who have as well. He could pull it off and it would be a bonus to the movement.