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Posts for November, 2009

Owens Wins Over Spoiler

Timothy Kincaid

November 3rd, 2009

For the past century and a half, New York congressional seat 23 has been in Republican hands. But when the local Republican leadership selected a candidate for the special election who supported marriage equality, that was just too much for some conservative out-of-state Republicans. Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, Dick Armey, and others built a national campaign in support of the Conservative Party candidate – all for the purpose of destroying Dede Scozzafava.

And, millions of dollars later and hours of talk radio ranting, that is all they accomplished.

Unwilling to accept a Republican that agreed with them sometimes, they handed the election over to a Democrat who would have otherwise had little chance. The final vote was:

Bill Owens – Dem. – 60,824 – 49.0%
Doug Hoffman – Con. – 56,450 – 45.5%
Dede Scozzafava – Rep. – 6,855 – 5.5%

(Even though Scozzafava withdrew from the race over the weekend and endorsed Owens, her name was still on the ballot and drew some protest votes)

But the extremists will not see this as a loss. Rather, they are delighted that they drove from the Party a long-time faithful and active Republican because she was “Republican In Name Only”. They embody the politics of exclusion, rejection, and arrogance. And if the Party caters to them, it does so at its own peril.

But although the most pro-gay candidate was driven out, there is a silver lining. Hoffman did not win. And when the extremists whine and moan about Nancy Pelosi, they will know deep in the back of their mind, that they gave her another vote. I can hardly wait for the day on which Owens’ one vote makes the difference on a bill they deeply care about.

Scozzafava Out, Hoffman Ahead, Republican Leadership Sends “Moderates Not Welcome” Message

Timothy Kincaid

November 2nd, 2009

dedeOver the weekend, Dede Scozzafava, the very gay-supportive Republican candidate for the 23rd Congressional district in New York pulled out of the race. Faced by a Democrat with heavy party funding and a prior-Republican-now-Conservative with financing from hard-core right-wing party purists, Scozzafava was not receiving adequate funds run an adequate campaign and maintain her early lead.

In many ways, this highlights the problem that moderate candidates face. If they are not perceived as being “our guy in Congress” for some special interest or if the party doesn’t make their seat a priority, it can be difficult to finance a campaign. Representing the moderate views of your constituency is all fine and good, but moderate positions are not much inclined to get the average voting citizen fired up enough to give.

hoffmanUnfortunately, the voters are now left with a choice between Bill Owens, an nonsupportive Democrat, and Doug Hoffman, a hard-core anti-gay Conservative. Scozzafava has endorsed Democrat Bill Owens but that may not be enough. Polls are suggesting that Conservative Hoffman may be leading in the now two-man race.

The most frustrating thing about the situation is that the right-wing extremists are now feeling justified and vindicated in their effort to destroy Scozzafava. They are “sending a message to all of the RINOs” (Republicans in name only) that they are not welcome in the Republican Party and that they will be driven out. Today Rush Limbaugh chortled that Scozzafava’s endorsement of the Democrat might lead to the “extinction” of RINOs.

Some Republican Party leadership had been showing signs lately that they are aware that moderates are needed in more liberal parts of the country in order for the Party to be competitive. But that may be more lip service than reality.

It will be interesting to see what they do. So far, there have been some very disturbing statements. (Bloomberg)

House Republican leaders embraced Hoffman after Scozzafava suspended her campaign. Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio, Republican Whip Eric Cantor of Virginia, and Texas Representative Pete Sessions, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, said in a statement that they “look forward to welcoming Doug Hoffman into the House Republican Conference.”

Boehner and Cantor said in a separate statement they would support Hoffman to fill the next available vacancy on the House Armed Services Committee.

By promising Hoffman plum appointments, both Boehner and Cantor have sent the message that they will richly reward those who destroy the more moderate elements of the Party and drive out those who do not share their extremist views on social issues. If the leadership continues in that vein, they may well be successful in turning the Republican Party into an ideologically pure, but politically irrelevant, permanently minority party.

Conservatives Seek to Make Republican Party Even Smaller

Timothy Kincaid

October 27th, 2009

dedeMuch attention is being paid to the 23rd Congressional Seat in Upstate New York. This Republican district, previously held by current Secretary of the Army John McHugh, may well elect a Democrat; and it may well be entirely due to the extremism of far right conservatives.

Although a rural New York district, the 23rd borders Vermont and Canada and is less invested in ultra-conservative social policy agenda items than, say, a rural Alabama district. Consequently, the local Republican Party leadership selected Dede Scozzafava, a moderate candidate, to represent the party in the mid-term election.

This did not sit well with the social conservative wing of the party. And wingnuts ranging from Rush Limbaugh to Sarah Palin have endorsed Doug Hoffman, the candidate running with the backing of the Conservative Party. They would rather split the Republican vote and destroy Scozzafava’s campaign – in order to “send a message” – than allow a Republican to be elected who dares stray from their tight agenda.

And Scozzafava’s sins? I’m sure you guessed them. Dede is pro-gay and pro-choice. In fact, she has voted twice in the New York House to legalize same-sex marriage. GASP!!

Well. They. Can’t. Have. That!! Can you imagine it? A Congressional Republican who supports marriage equality?

So extremists from around the nation (but not so much the district) are financing and pushing for Doug Hoffman as hard as they can. Not because he can win, but because they hate the idea of Scozzafaza winning.

Folk like Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, and Dick Armey aren’t interested in a big tent of diverse people sharing some general sense of fiscal policy and the role of government. They’d rather have the Republican Party be a pup-tent of the “ideologically pure”, having no role in government other than that of the whining outsider. But, then again, that is what puts money in Rush’s pocket.

UPDATE:

As commenter Matt notes below, Scozzafaza is the only supportive candidate in the race. The Democrat, Bill Owens, is a committed enemy of equality which certainly plays a part in Limbaugh’s efforts to sabotage Dede.

If you’ve ever said to yourself, “I’d never support a Republican”, here’s your chance to make an exception. You can contribute to Dede’s campaign here.