WASHINGTON, DC (November 4, 2009) – Tonight’s election results in Virginia, New Jersey and New York show a clear trend: when the GOP works to reach out to Independents and moderates, Republicans win – and when the Party narrows its focus to the right-wing fringe, Republicans lose.
Even though they may personally be more socially conservative, Republicans Bob McDonnell of Virginia and Chris Christie of New Jersey both ran purely centrist, common sense campaigns for Governor of their respective states. They proposed real fixes for the economy and job creation, and they studiously avoided getting sidetrack by far extreme positions on social issues.
Juxtapose this with the narrow-minded – and ultimately failed — tactics employed by fringe forces in New York’s 23rd Congressional District. The contrast is revealing. Tuesday’s loss of this House seat, which has been Republican since 1871, is proof-positive that divisiveness from the extreme right will do one thing – add to the Democratic majority. The national forces who descended upon New York’s 23rd Congressional district owe all Republicans an apology.
The GOP nominee, State Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava, was not a card-carrying member of the right-wing movement. However, she did support legislation in line with the majority of the Republican Party. She pledged to make the 2001 and 2003 federal tax cuts permanent, supported a permanent repeal of the Death Tax and sought to permanently fix the Alternative Minimum Tax. She also signed the Americans for Tax Reform “No New Tax” Pledge. She opposed cap-and-trade, supported medical malpractice tort reform and was endorsed by the NRA. By all accounts she was a good Republican, with a well-deserved double-digit lead in the polls.
Enter the national far-right fringe organizations and right wing would-be presidential candidates who thought they saw an opportunity to make a political statement. They funneled massive out-of-state resources into this contest and tried to make it a referendum on the direction the Party should be taking. They seized on a Conservative Party candidate from outside the district and tried to anoint him the ‘real Republican’. There can be no doubt their insistence on pushing their extreme agenda cost Republicans a long-held seat in Congress.
Don’t let these fringe conservatives rewrite the history of these elections – the correct analysis is not that voters embraced a hard-line fundamentalist agenda: they embraced the common sense mainstream agenda that reached out to moderates and independents. In the final analysis, the NY-23 special election showed that continued divisiveness from the extreme right will hurt the Republican Party. For Republicans to win, the message of today is that they need to be a big tent.
Republican Majority for Choice