This weekend brought some extraordinary events in the New York-23 special election. On Saturday the Republican nominee, Dede Scozzafava, unexpectedly announced she was suspending her campaign. Her polling numbers had slipped substantially after weeks of intense negative campaigning against her.
Many state and national Republican Party officials quickly threw their support behind the third party candidate, Doug Hoffman, who is running on the “Conservative” line. Hoffman does not live in the district; but was drafted with the help from the Club for Growth and supported by Sarah Palin, Dick Armey and others extreme social fundamentalist organizations. Their involvement was more about promoting a self-serving message and national aspirations; and not at all about the local issues of importance to voters in the district. They poured millions of dollars into a massive false campaign to paint Scozzafava as “too liberal”, which lead to the GOP dropping by double digits in the polls. They cited issues like her common sense approach to abortion, among other things.
Scozzafava, in a move that really should not surprise anyone, ended up backing the Democrat yesterday.
The reality is regardless of what happens on Tuesday, this entire episode should be a huge concern for the entire GOP. This district has been Republican since 1871. The local and state Party were praised by the National Party after choosing mainstream GOP nominee Scozzafava. She held a strong lead until the influx of “outside the district” social conservative forces went on the attack.
Significant damage has been to efforts to broaden GOP appeal to the majority of voters. When hundreds of seats are up nationwide in the 2010 midterm elections, and the GOP has to be competitive on the national scene, this could no doubt come back to hurt the Party with independent, women and moderate voters.
Stay tuned tomorrow for updates on this race and the races in VA and New Jersey and let us know what you think.