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article imageOp-Ed: Owens' Win is Now Democrats' Loss

By Johnny Simpson     Nov 7, 2009 in Politics
Liberal Democrats declared a huge victory this past Tuesday in NY-23 against the Tea Party movement and the despised Rush-Beck-Palin Evil Trinity. Yet not only has Rep. Bill Owens wiped away all that good work, he may have just sunk the Democrats in 2010.
Regardless of how New York's 23rd Congressional District race turned out between Democrat Bill Owens and Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman, both sides were ready to spin the outcome their way.
Had Doug Hoffman won, Tea Party conservatives would have declared a stake had been driven in the hearts of both the DNC and GOP national parties by forcing out Dede Scozzafava and pushing Hoffman over the finish line past Owens. Liberals would have pointed to all of the out-of-town money and influence that poured into Hoffman's campaign, as though Bill Owens' run was a pristine example of local support. Like the DNC and district hero Joe Biden, for example.
But since it was Hoffman who lost, conservatives still declared a moral if Pyrrhic victory by dumping Dede Scozzafava as the GOP candidate. They also pointed to Hoffman's respectable showing at the polls as teaching the national GOP a conservative lesson. Liberals once again are pointing to an overwhelming "local uprising" against Hoffman despite the DNC cash dumping, photo finish and 6% of the vote that went to Dede Scozzafava, who was still on the ballot. Twice. Owens, too. Isn't that double-dipping? But I digress.
Lastly, Nancy Pelosi was able to somewhat realistically claim Bill Owens' win in NY-23 as an overwhelming victory amidst a landscape of crushing Democrat defeats on Election Night 2009. Madama Speaker is correct, in the fact that Democrats now have two newly elected representatives in the House, and not additional GOPers to fight as liberal Democrats try to push their social policies into law. Can't be bad.
Or can it? Featured prominently on Drudge as of late, and now on most major conservative blogs, comes the news that Rep. Bill Owens (D-NY) broke four major campaign promises in the space of his first hour in office. In effect, not only has the newly-minted Rep. Owens practically guaranteed sacrificing his seat next year, he has provided Republicans and conservatives with priceless commercial material, perhaps even more valuable than when presidential candidate John Kerry declared he was for funding the Iraq War before he was against it. Bill Owens can now be pictured in political ads kicking his flipflop-clad feet up on his House desk as his first act in Washington. For starters. Especially if he votes like he promised he wouldn't.
Now maybe that lying stuff mostly gets lost in the sauce every two years when all House reps play Musical Chairs with their seats, even to the point we cynical average American Joes and Josephines expect it. But Owens' betrayal really stands out between the NY-23 special election, the economy and the profundity of Dems losing New Jersey by a margin even ACORN couldn't cover, and getting blown out in Virginia. Owens' cardinal sin of politics so soon on the job may prove a devastating blow for Democrats in local, state and federal elections next year. And in ways far worse than just losing to Hoffman would have been. In due time.
I'll place my bets. Remember a guy named George H. W. Bush and "Read my lips, no new taxes"? I can just see GOP ads with footage from Owens' campaign, followed by today's news, that will ask NY-23 voters and the larger American electorate the big political question for 2010: can Democrats really be trusted?
Remember that appearances can be all in American politics. That may not be a pleasant reality, but it is a political one. John Kerry may have had very good reasoning for withholding his second vote on funding the Iraq War. It just didn't look good. But this all goes well beyond just appearances. Bill Owens betrayed his constituents right out of the gate, many of whom expected very different behavior based on his campaign promises when they cast their ballots last Tuesday. So it appears the Democrats' victory in NY-23 is at the cost of Owens' shooting himself and them all in the foot his first day on the job. Again, I'm thinking Pyrrhus.
The electoral situation for Republicans and conservatives was already showing promise for 2010 after voters solidly rejected Jon Corzine and Creigh Deeds in states Obama captured by overwhelming margins in 2008, and making it a real dogfight in NY-23. It now appears that the "permanent Democratic majority" paradigm hailed by liberals and the MSM after the party's sweeps of Congress and the White House last November was an illusion. Many Blue Dog Democrats are now reconsidering their allegiances to liberal policies after recent elections. They know statements of public anger and revolt when they see them.
And now, Rep. Bill Owens may have thoroughly shattered whatever was left of that illusory paradigm right along with his campaign promises. It will certainly make Obama policy battles in Congress and the run-up to the 2010 elections much more interesting and intriguing, especially after all that has transpired since Election Day 2009 kicked off. Slight public mood shift. And Bill Owens may yet find out, possibly to his and other Congressional Democrats' demise, that elephants never forget. Nor will voters constantly reminded via political commercials. NY-23 voters will certainly not forget a year from now either, that's for sure.
UPDATE: Rep. Bill Owens (D-NY) has voted to pass the House health care bill, which it has despite its containing four provisions Rep. Owens ran against. His PR is currently spinning the public option part of it, yet three promises regarding Medicare cuts and higher taxes remain broken. So my "especially if he votes like he promised he wouldn't" part came true. Maybe he just liked being Obama's homeboy as soon as he hit town, and totally forgot that he's actually the homeboy of his district. They're remind him next year.
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
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