Candidates for the special election in NY's 23rd District (AP Photo/FILES)
Doug Hoffman holds narrow lead in NY-23
Scozzafava backs Democrat
In upstate New York, a tight, 3-way race between Republican Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava, Democrat Bill Owens, and Conservative Doug Hoffman got a little more interesting over the weekend. Dede Scozzafava, whose campaign and fundraising efforts were irreparably damaged by Republican Party leaders, dropped out of the race to fill the seat of former congressman John McHugh, left vacant when McHugh was appointed Secretary of the Army. After dropping out, Scozzafava endorsed the Democratic candidate Bill Owens.
Assemblywoman Scozzafava's campaign was crippled from the beginning by the loud, inflammatory voices of Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, and House Republican Conference Chair Mike Pence (R-IN). She may not have been the ideal person to be the voice of reason, moderation and tolerance in the GOP. But the way that she was treated by these "leaders" of her own party is problematic. These people could have used their influence to help Scozzafava win this election. Instead they chose to use this moment to take a stand against aspiring Republican candidates with more liberal views on social issues.
Hopefully this was not a preview of the GOP's strategy for the 2010 election cycle. Moderate and independent voters are not looking for the Republican Party to move to the right on social issues. Spending time, money, and political capital to recruit right-wing candidates against more liberal Republicans sends a dangerous message to moderate voters. Dede Scozzafava was not opposed by this cabal of Republicans because of the manner in which she was nominated. Their disdain for her as a representative of the GOP revolves entirely around some of her more moderate views on social issues. Although there was nothing improper or unethical about their actions, the GOP's best interests will not be served by the public evisceration of its more moderate voices.
Independent voters are looking for an alternative to the higer taxes and unbridled spending that has been this new administration's hallmark. It's not rocket science. These people care about the economy and they care about the national debt. They want hope that, with hard work and dedication, they'll be successful and can live the American dream. Stunts like the debacle in New York's 23rd congressional district make the GOP look out of touch. Its positions on abortion and gay marriage must not define the Republican Party if it hopes to remain competitive.
In order to win elections, the Republican Party needs to get back to the basics. They have good things to say about the economy and fiscal restraint. Let's use tax credits to make it easier for families to raise their children and send them to college. Let's give small businesses incentives to hire new employees and to offer health care benefits. Let's spend money wisely and balance the budget to make the United States competitive again. Intra-party conflicts over a legitimate candidate's views on social issues will never win the moderate and independent votes that the GOP needs to get back into power.