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article imageOp-Ed: Outcome of NY-23 Race Extends Far Beyond GOP

By Johnny Simpson     Oct 31, 2009 in Politics
There's a huge battle going on for the soul of the Republican Party in NY-23. Democrats may take great amusement in the fact that Republicans have engaged in fisticuffs, but if history is any indicator there's a lot for both parties to be worried about.
UPDATE: As DJ Oliver VanDervoort just reported within the last hour, NY-23 GOP candidate Dede Scozzafava has withdrawn from the Congressional race in New York's 23rd District, leaving only Democrat Bill Owens and Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman. Both candidates are in a dead heat, but Dede Scozzafava's withdrawal and endorsement of Hoffman could be a game changer. I started this oped two days ago and well before this news broke, but I believe my opining on the larger implications of this race for both parties remains as valid as when I started it. On With The Show.
If you want the big picture of the ideological war raging within the Republican Party, you need go no further than New York's 23rd Congressional District. On the Democrat side you have Bill Owens, a liberal candidate supported in full by President Obama, liberal Democrats and the DNC. On the Republican side you have candidate Dede Scozzafava, a New York State Assemblywoman and former mayor of Gouverneur, a town in the district. Dede was handpicked by the local GOP in lieu of a primary runoff and supported by the national party, which included personal statements of support from Chairman Michael Steele and such influential GOP career politicians as former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
And then we have the upstart running as an Independent, Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman, who has received the backing of the national Tea Party organizations and Club For Growth, as well as statements of support from such prominent national GOP figures as Fred Thompson, Texas governor Rick Perry, and most recently former New York governor George Pataki. Mr. Hoffman has also been endorsed by the New York Post, conservative FOX pundits Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity and talk show host Rush Limbaugh. Former VP candidate Sarah Palin's endorsement generated $114,000.00 in contributions to Hoffman's campaign in a single day.
The ideological battles on both sides of this Congressional race have been most heated, and that's not even counting Democrat Bill Owens. He must be wondering what the hell is going on. What is going on, in short, is a war between the liberal DC and New York GOP establishments supporting Scozzafava and the rebel conservative wing of the GOP supporting Hoffman. But why the fight in the first place? Many point to Scozzafava's liberal positions on such social issues as gay marriage and abortion, but it appears to be Scozzafava's support for and endorsements from such left-leaning organizations as ACORN, SEIU, the Working Families Party (an ACORN offshoot), Planned Parenthood, and her policies on raising taxes that have most infuriated conservatives. Even the left-wing Daily KOS' Markos Moulitsas has endorsed Scozzafava, nothing short of a scarlet letter for most Republicans and conservatives.
The national party has refused to back down, calling the rebellious supporters of Hoffman "purists" who threaten to bring down the party in the upcoming 2010 elections next year. Perhaps even a takeover of Congress would be at risk. Given the American electorate's increasing disenchantment with President Obama's and liberal Democrats' policies providing an environment conducive to far-reaching GOP victories, infighting could be fatal. The GOP is even now running ads opposing Hoffman in much the same manner that the DNC is for Owens. The rebel conservative response has been to run counter-ads like this gem and reminding the national GOP that such victories are not worth winning if they must be won with left-leaning liberal candidates like Scozzafava, who is even to the left of President Obama on some issues. She is to many conservatives what columnist Mark Steyn called a DIABLO: "Democrat In All But Label Only."
Democrats and liberal pundits have also chimed in on the Republican political fistfights going on in NY-23, some with great amusement and great cheer that such GOP infighting or a far-right shift in the party would lead to permanent minority status for the GOP and continued or increased power by liberal Democrats in Congress taking advantage of the situation. Yet developments in that race have taken startling turns that have proved ominous for both major national establishment political parties. According to recent polls, Doug Hoffman is now in a dead heat with Bill Owens while Scozzafava is in double-digit free fall.
Even worse for both parties, Hoffman is picking up most of his new support not from either major party candidate but from the 30% of previously undecided voters, a real danger sign. That means voters are making up their minds, and not in the way either party wanted or intended. Politically speaking, Hoffman has blown up in both their faces. The outcome may finally be decided on Tuesday by efforts on the ground. In that respect, Hoffman is also taking a decisive lead. Conservatives and Tea Party supporters are pouring in from all over the country in a last-blast effort to get out the vote for Hoffman. To illustrate the upswing, Hoffman now has five campaign offices in the district overflowing with volunteers. Scozzafava has one. Even GOP Chairman Steele is starting to change his tune. Should Hoffman win next Tuesday, it will be a victory with Richter-scale political reverberations throughout both national parties.
So what, in essence, led the New York race to this point? As a conservative-leaning Libertarian, former Republican and newly-minted Independent myself, the answers are very simple to me and should be most troubling to establishment DC politicians. Though the issues of gay marriage and abortion are very thorny ones for many conservatives and Republicans, they are not deal breakers in and of themselves. I myself am quite tolerant on both issues and fully support LGBT and women's rights, as do many other conservative Libertarian types in the party. Rudy Giuliani is a classic example. He may be liberal on women's and gay rights, but because of his conservative positions on taxes, crime and terrorism he was a viable candidate.
Conversely, the deal breakers for Scozzafava appear to be her support of higher taxes, expansion of government and close associations with shady left-leaning organizations like ACORN, SEIU, the Working Families Party and Planned Parenthood, all of which have been caught red-handed in the worst forms of corruption yet continue on unabated and unpunished with full liberal Democrat financial and political support. As also reflected in many recent polls, support for President Obama's and liberal Democrats' radical intrusive and budget-busting policies have been falling like meteors. Most Americans believe our government leaders are going in the wrong directions, and support for Congress is at all-time historic lows.
In microcosm, the ideological war taking place in the GOP is not only a war for the hearts of Republicans, but for the soul of America. As embodied in the massive public presence at the Tea Parties and town hall meetings, the arguments for Republicans, conservatives, Libertarians, Independents and even many Democrats are becoming crystal clear. Do we want bigger government, higher taxes, higher energy and medical costs and massive government intrusion into private lives and homes or do we not? Most important, do we want representatives in Congress who reflect our perspectives and beliefs? Or do we want more of the same from both parties, whom millions of Americans believe are running the country into the ground?
The views of left-leaning liberal Democrats who could not be happier with the turn of events this past year will vary widely from mine no doubt, but I am attempting here to present the conservative, Libertarian and Independent viewpoints which explains why there is a war in the GOP today, and how one major underdog candidate may yet pull off an astounding Rocky-like political victory in New York's 23rd Congressional District over both major party candidates. If it were either the liberal Democrat or the liberal establishment New York Republican leading this race, we wouldn't be having this conversation. But the factors that have contributed to Doug Hoffman's surprising run to date and continued rise in the polls as we move toward election day are very clear in my mind, to wit: a solid Independent candidate can run and win, even in the face of major political and financial opposition from both national parties.
A Doug Hoffman victory would be a lesson both the GOP and DNC would walk away from without learning the fundamentals as to how and why it happened at their own peril. For the record, Ronald Reagan was not the preferred choice of national Republican party members, and many on both sides of the political aisle in Washington campaigned against him in 1980. Despite all that, Reagan won in a landslide. A similar conservative uprising wracked Congress in 1994. The real question today is, are we looking at the same sour public mood that catapulted Reagan and other conservatives into office after President Carter's liberal Democrat polices tanked America's economy and standing in the world? Time will tell. But the Hoffman race in NY-23 may just be a sneak peak into something quite revolutionary happening in America today.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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