New York's 23rd district
Reagan Conservatives Win a Skirmish in the Battle for the GOP
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New York’s 23rd district has become symbolic of the struggle within the Republican Party between Reagan conservatives and the left-leaning RINO establishment. The special election to fill Congressman John McHugh’s seat is the only open congressional seat in this off-year election.
“This is entirely a battle over the definition and winning formula for Republican candidates going into the midterm elections of 2010 and beyond,” GOP strategist Paul Erickson said.
Dede Scozzafava has withdrawn from the congressional race in the 23rd district only three days out from Tuesday’s election. Scozzafava’s exit represents a solid win for Reagan conservatives in their attempt to establish a core identify for the Republican Party to rebound after losing control of the White House and both branches of Congress to leftist progressive Democrats.
The sudden shift to a two-man race in New York’s 23rd district is the “bat-signal” for Reagan conservative candidates nationwide to offer primary challenges to RINO (Republican in name only) candidates who go-along-to-get-along and further the Democrats’ progressive agenda.
“The grass roots of the conservative movement just claimed a scalp before anyone even voted. The conservative movement is alive, well, kicking hindquarters and taking names. And if you don’t measure up, look out,” said Mark McKinnon, former senior adviser to President George W. Bush and Senator John McCain.
For weeks, conservatives have relentlessly attacked Scozzafava for her left-wing positions on homosexual marriage and taxpayer-funded abortion as well as her support for Brother O’s stimulus bill and big labor’s Card Check. Her withdrawal draws attention to the power of the grassroots conservative-libertarian movement that has risen in opposition to Brother O’s socialist agenda and the Republican Party’s out-of-touch leadership.
Prominent Republicans, including former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, former Senators Fred Thompson and Rick Santorum, and former House Republican leader Dick Armey stood against the party establishment and endorsed Conservative candidate Doug Hoffman.
A Siena College poll released Saturday revealed the “hand writing on the wall.” Scozzafava’s support had dwindled to a paltry 20 percent among likely voters, while Hoffman’s had risen to 36 percent, and the Democrat Bill Owens’ was at 35 percent.
Although she failed to officially endorse Hoffman, Scozzafava did release her supporters to vote “as they see fit.” And with her announcement, the Republican National Committee (RNC) awakened and quickly shifted support to Hoffman.
Scozzafava’s departure was welcome news for the Hoffman campaign, but not so welcome news for the Democrats. They had hoped for a three-way race where Owens could win a plurality of votes in the solidly Republican district.
“[T]he one constant factor at play‚Äîboth locally and nationally‚Äîhas been that independent voters continue to peel away from the Democrats and gravitate toward the right,” said Ken Spain, a spokesman for the National Republican Campaign Committee (NRCC).
Reagan conservatives are now looking to Florida’s open Senate seat for 2010, in which the Republican Party establishment has endorsed the state’s left-leaning governor, but conservative Marco Rubio is gaining momentum.
“If I were Charlie Crist in Florida, what’s happening in New York 23 would make me extremely nervous. A lot of the establishment Republicans underestimated the grass-roots anger across the country about spending and the expansion of the federal government. The anger is boiling over now, but a lot of the seeds of discontent were planted over the last five to six years,” said Todd Harris, GOP strategist.
The “principle over party” idea, embodied by Sarah Palin, Joe the Plumber, Tea Partiers, and town hall protesters, has inspired Americans such as Pam Murray Wojtowicz, a new member of the Saratoga Springs City Council, to get involved in the Hoffman campaign and take back control of her party.
“I’m a Ronald Reagan Republican, and we don’t need another wishy-washy, let’s-be-like-the-Democrats candidate,” Wojtowicz said.
Wojtowicz plainly sums up what’s transpiring in New York’s 23rd district and in the Republican Party.