Sunday, November 1, 2009

Lack of Class of the Conservative in NY-23 Race


The Daily Kos has the lowdown on the NY-23 race.

For all intents and purposes, the special election to replace Republican Congressman John McHugh should have been over the second GOP nominee DeDe Scozzafava decided to fall on her sword and drop out of the election.

With the battle between Democrat Bill Owens and third-party insurgent candidate Doug Hoffman within the margin of error, Hoffman should have picked off the bulk of the Republican vote from Scozzafava's remaining core group of supporters, and that should have been the ball game.

Few people suspected that in an historically Republican district, Owens could survive without split opposition.

But, then, by virtue of his own gracelessness, Doug Hoffman complicated matters...for himself.

Just appreciate the distinction between the candidate statements that emanated from Scozzafava's stunning decision to suspend her campaign.

First, the statement by Democrat Bill Owens, which offered a very conciliatory tone:

"Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava has been an honorable public servant for years now and I have a tremendous amount of respect for her and her commitment to her principles. While we disagree on certain issues, we share a dedication to serving the best interests of Upstate New York and the Obama administration's efforts to get our economy back on track. Those interests will always be my highest priority."

Contrast that statement with this sneering, almost taunting, statement from Doug Hoffman:

"This morning's events prove what we have said for the last week; this campaign is a horserace between me and Nancy Pelosi's handpicked candidate, Bill Owens. At this moment, the Democratic Party, the Working Families Party, ACORN, Big Labor and pro-abortion groups are flooding the district with troops and they are flooding the airwaves with a million dollars worth of negative ads. They are throwing mud; they are trying to stop me."

To give a succinct recap: Owens praised Scozzafava and promised to work for upstate New York. Hoffman cackled a quick "I told you so" before returning on the attack.

That might explain why a large number of Scozzafava supporters, from the head of the state's Independence Party to several voices within organized labor, immediately turned to the Democrat Owens rather than her fellow Republican, Hoffman. This morning, one of the more prominent newspapers in the district, The Watertown Daily Times, followed suit, switching its endorsement from Scozzafava to Owens.

And then, in the second shocker from her in as many days, the Republican nominee endorsed the Democratic nominee:

Since announcing the suspension of my campaign, I have thought long and hard about what is best for the people of this District, and how to answer your questions. This is not a decision that I have made lightly.

You know me, and throughout my career, I have been always been an independent voice for the people I represent. I have stood for our honest principles, and a truthful discussion of the issues, even when it cost me personally and politically. Since beginning my campaign, I have told you that this election is not about me; it’s about the people of this District.

It is in this spirit that I am writing to let you know I am supporting Bill Owens for Congress and urge you to do the same.

Now, this is not to say that Scozzafava, a social moderate, would have sent an endorsement letter for right-wing ideologue Doug Hoffman if only he had been nicer to her. But her initial statement on Saturday seemed to make a very neutral statement. That neutrality had disappeared just 24 hours later. It is hard not to conclude that Owens' graciousness, and Hoffman's arrogance, might have pushed Scozzafava off of the fence.

In the final analysis, it might not matter, of course. Owens is still fighting upstream in a GOP district against what is now for all intents and purposes a single GOP opponent. But Hoffman's own lack of class might have made this a lot of harder on him than it could have been.

If the Cconservative Doug Hoffman wins, the radical right will claim it as a victory. If Democrat Bill Owens wins, the Republicans will claim foul. This is getting interesting!

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