Is the NY-23 Race a National Dividing Line Between Conservatives and Republicans?
Earlier this year, President Obama appointed Rep. John McHugh (R-NY-23) to serve as Secretary of the Army setting up a special election. Normally, these special elections to fill a congressional seat don't send any national signals. This race is different for a few reasons.
1. While New York is rightfully considered a very liberal state there are pockets of conservatives once you get away from the major cities and New York's 23rd district is one such area.
2. People don't normally watch congressional races outside of their geographical area, but with few other races a minor race gets much more attention.
3. Another factor is growing dissatisfaction among conservative Republicans with the decisions made at the national level over whom to back. Often the NRC, NRSC, and NRCC seem to back the candidate least likely to support the party platform out of a mistaken belief that conservatism can't win in some states. The decision of the NRSC and President Bush to support liberals such as Sen. Chafee and Specter among others led many conservative to vow never to donate to the Republicans on the national level out of a sense that the money will be misspent.
4. The biggest reason this race is getting national attention from conservatives the local GOP nominated a very liberal candidate, Dede Scozzafava, for this seat. This isn't the case of a candidate who is fiscally conservative but socially liberal (in other words pro-abortion) or vice versa. This candidate is very liberal all the way around.
Fortunately there is a conservative option in this race. A conservative Republican who shares our values, Doug Hoffman is running in this race. Unfortunately, there was no primary election held so Mr. Hoffman is forced to run as a third party candidate under the Conservative Party label.
That is how this race became a showdown for Republicans between those who think it is important to stand for certain beliefs and values and the long time Washington Republicans who think all that matters is the party label someone carries after their name.
Not surprisingly, the list of Republicans breaking ranks to support Hoffman are ones with strongly held conservative beliefs. Fred Thompson recorded an audio blog post titled: "Vote for Principles not Parties" explaining his position on this race. Other notable Republicans who are backing Hoffman include Sarah Palin, Rick Santorum, Steve Forbes, Dick Armey, and Some supporting the liberal candidate, Scozzafava, include several labor unions, Newt Gingrich, Pete King, and most disappointingly my own congressman Rep. John Boehner (OH-8). As Fred Thompson said principles are more important than parties. In future primaries we need to remember the principles of those who weighed in on this race (and the cowardice of those who took no position).
As a side note, I did contact Rep. Boehner's office and they somehow insist that Scozzafava is the conservative choice.