New York race exposes the big tent GOP myth UPDATED!
By: Mark Tapscott
Editorial Page Editor
October 28, 2009
Conservatives owe Dede Scozzafava a big thank you because her candidacy in New York's special congressional election has exposed the utter bankruptcy of the "Big Tent" school of faux Republicanism.
Scozzafava has been a New York Assemblywoman since 1998 and is now running for New York's 23rd congressional district seat vacated earlier this year by incumbent Rep. John McHugh's acceptance of President Obama's appointment as Secretary of the Army.
'She is opposed by Democrat Bill Owens and Conservative Party of New York nominee Doug Hoffman. Surveys show the race is tightening, with Owens and Hoffman battling for the lead and Scozzafava fading in third place.
Scozzafava was selected by local GOP leaders to succeed McHugh. She is also heavily backed by the Washington GOP establishment, led by the National Republican Congressional Committee's chairman, Rep. Pete Sessions of Texas, and Michael Steel's Republican National Committee. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich also backs Scozzafava.
Hoffman accepted the Conservative Party nomination after being rejected by the local GOP poo-bahs. A successful accountant and entrepreneur, he is backed nationally by a rebellious coalition of insurgent conservative activist groups led by the Club for Growth.
He's also picked up high profile endorsements from former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Sen. Jim DeMint, R-SC, former senators Fred Thompson and Rick Santorum, and former NRCC chairman Rep. Tom Cole, R-OK. Hoffman is a Reagan conservative who favors limited government, lower taxes, less regulation, and a strong national defense. He's the classic citizen-politician, having never previously sought public office and wouldn't be now except for his worry about the country's direction under Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid.
Scozzafava epitomizes the Republican-In-Name-Only (RINO) phenomena. She supports abortion on demand and special rights based on sexual preference. She's voted repeatedly in the New York legislature for higher taxes and more government spending. Even ACORN's Working Families Party has endorsed her, as has far-left blogger Marcos Moulitsas of Daily Kos.
The campaign' pivotal moment came last Sunday evening when Scozzafava's campaign manager - her husband, a local labor leader - called the cops on reporter John McCormack of The Weekly Standard after he persisted in questioning her about her views. The next morning, her press flak accused McCormack of screaming at Scozzafava, then changed his story when the reporter played a tape recording of the encounter for AP.
Washington Establishment GOPers claim Scozzafava is the best the party can do in a moderately liberal Northeast district like NY-23, and at least she will caucus with Republicans in Congress. But if that's the case, why is she running third? And what difference would it make if she votes against Pelosi for Speaker but then votes for everything Pelosi favors?
Therein lies the fallacy of the Big Tent: When feckless GOPers embrace RINOs such as Scozzafava, the only winners are liberal Democrats like Pelosi who can then claim "bipartisan" support for higher taxes, more regulation, bigger government and less individual freedom. Conservatives like Hoffman end up isolated and shivering in the cold outside the so-called Big Tent, unfairly branded as party poopers.
Hoffman may well win next Tuesday, but even if he finishes second, ahead of Scozzafava, it will advance the cause of genuinely competitive politics by sending a powerful message to Steel, Sessions and the rest of the Washington GOP Establishment that their Democrat-Lite game is a loser.
Mark Tapscott is editorial page editor of The Washington Examiner and proprietor of Tapscott's Copy Desk blog on Mark Tapscott is editorial page editor of The Washington Examiner and proprietor of Tapscott's Copy Desk blog on washingtonexaminer.com.
UPDATE: Riehl-world View has NRCC scoop Dan Riehl lays out a sequence of events and characters in which Washington GOP Establishment-types do what they so often do - undermine the party's chances of a principled pickup and make money for insiders in the process.
UPDATE II: And here is the bitter fruit of RINOism
For the first time since Barack Obama was sworn in as president, a majority of the respondents in the Wall Street Journal/NBC News survey say the country is on the wrong track. But gues what? The GOP, which as the out party traditionally would be expected to see increasing support, is instead in continuing decline:
"But a dark national view of how everybody in Washington is conducting the public's business appears to be preventing Republicans from benefitting from concerns about the direction of the country, or the Democrat-led government's handling of the economy," the Journal said.
"In fact, disapproval of the Republican Party actually has ticked upward, along with the public's general pessimism. Asked which political party should control Congress after next year's midterm elections, Democrats now hold a clear edge over the GOP, 46 percent to 38 percent, a month after the Republicans were nearly as popular. In September, the Democratic edge was 43 percent of 40 percent."
This is yet more evidence for why I say the single most important qualification for congressional candidates in 2010 may well be having absolutely no connection to the existing power structures in the nation's capital. It may also help explain why Doug Hoffman has done so well in the NY-23 special election campaign to date.