As usual, I’m a day or two late to this subject. However – also as usual – I wanted time to think it through and to do the research necessary to bring to light all the issues involved and to ponder their implications. In addition, this story is continuing to evolve and will continue to do so until the voters in New York have cast their ballots on November 3rd.
What I will discuss is a regional fight, but it has national implications so it’s important to get the particulars in order.
First of all, my larger contention: that the national Republican Party has so completely lost its integrity, vigor, and moral sensibility that it is in grave danger of losing the confidence of all the American people.
I have refused the Republican denomination for quite some time, as have many people I know. When asked, we usually reply that we’re “conservative” or “libertarian”. Though those labels aren’t a good fit, they are at least not a shameful one.
Let me put it this way: I am in favor of reforming and downsizing our federal and state government. I want our tax code simplified so that it can be easily understood by the average person and can be read in a few hours. I want a tax based on consumption and I want all the penalties for savers eliminated. Most of all, I want government out of our private lives. It doesn’t appear that the Republican Party in its current manifestation wants any of these things.
Lots of other people have similar positions and philosophies about the current state of our politics in America. They have put their money where their mouths are, giving to organizations like the Club for Growth while stiff-arming the Republican National Committee. This trend will only increase as the professional Republicans show little understanding or regard for the current political reality.
Therefore, the recent public debate over the special election in the 23rd Congressional District in upper New York state is having a ripple effect. People are taking notice of what is happening there and are questioning the entrenched position of the pols.
Just because people are paying attention, that doesn’t mean everyone understands the ramifications, even those who comment on it.
First some background: President Obama made an offer that the incumbent Congressional representative evidently couldn’t refuse. Former Congressman John McHugh is now Secretary of the Army John McHugh. Here’s his record, via The Army Times:
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McHugh has served over 16 years as a member of Congress representing northern and central New York. During his service, he forged strong ties to Fort Drum and earned a reputation as a staunch advocate for Soldiers and their families, working tirelessly to ensure they had proper facilities, training, and the quality of life necessary to carry out wartime missions while caring for those at home.
Over the last eight years, McHugh made 10 official visits to Iraq and four visits to Afghanistan and other deployed locations to visit U.S. forces.
As Secretary, McHugh will draw on his years of previous experience as the ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) which oversees the policies and programs for the Department of Defense and each of the Armed Forces. Prior to becoming the ranking member of the HASC, Mr. McHugh served as the ranking member of the HASC Military Personnel Subcommittee and previously as its chairman for six years.
In addition, at the time of his nomination, McHugh was co-chair of the House Army Caucus, a bipartisan organization that works to educate fellow House members and their staffs about Army issues and programs, and a 14-year member of the United States Military Academy Board of Visitors.
Quite a record, wouldn’t you say? And given the length of his incumbency, McHugh was a strong voice for the military…and a solid Republican.
So moving him out of the game and into the bureaucracy of the Pentagon was a smart move on Obama’s part. One serious opponent nicely neutralized. And it put into play a Congressional seat that is usually safely on the Republican side of the aisle.
I say “usually” because the person chosen by the Republican Party in New York, and endorsed by the National Committee is not anyone that a conservative would ever vote for:
On July 22, 2009, [Diedre] Scozzafava was chosen by the eleven Republican Party county chairs located in the 23rd Congressional district to be the Republican nominee for the special election to fill John M. McHugh’s seat in Congress who resigned in September 2009 to become Secretary of the Army.
So who is Ms. Scozzafava and why do I think her nomination by those Republican Party Council chairs is a ruinous choice?
Well, she’s hardly a conservative. She’s pro-choice and supports same-sex marriage. Those are warning bells, but she could be a fiscal conservative and a social liberal. That’s workable.
Unfortunately, she doesn’t appear to be clean at all and her opposition will trounce her. This nomination is a big strategic mistake:
Her opponents have already started questioning Scozzafava’s ties to Seaway Capital Partners, which is run by her brother and which had about $192,000 in tax liens on it. One of Seaway’s holdings is the Hackett’s department stores. Scozzafava is listed as chief operating officer for the company on her legislative Web site; however, she has said she hasn’t had any direct ties with the company since 2007.
So, right from the starting gate she doesn’t look clean and in political campaigns, appearances count.
The company you keep counts too, and this woman has been endorsed by the Working Families Party. In essence, she’s been endorsed by ACORN.
Some background on the WFP from Roger Stone, who has been through eight national Republican campaigns. This is a man who knows the players and the game:
Make no mistake about it – the so called Working Families Party, a Party with no County chairman or County committees, a Party with no unpaid workers, is merely a front for ACORN. They share the same office and addresses. ACORN Executive Director Bertha Lewis is the Co-Chair and de-facto boss of the well heeled little “Party.” Labor pours in millions to leverage the Democratic Party to the Left….on their issues. With New York deeply in the hole and with state revenue dropping sharply, there is no discussion of cutting the state’s bloated labor costs.
The WFP has no shortage of cash. Indeed the ACORN’s founder embezzled $1 Million dollars but ACORN elected not to prosecute him for fear of a court laying their financial books and records bare.
The WFP gained greater respectability when Hillary Clinton and Eliot Spitzer each made their deal for the Party’s backing. The WFP uses all the classic ACORN voter fraud techniques: forged absentee ballots, rounding up “homeless” voters, fake voter enrollment and multiple voting by ringers. Whenever busted for their illegal activities, ACORN claims it is all news to them and the act of a few misguided employees who have been fired; not likely.
Any candidate with integrity (obviously not Hillary Clinton, since she cut a deal with the WFP) would run the other way.
Erick Erickson at RedState has done extensive research into this. Start here and follow his links. See his discussion of fusionism.
Having established that Dede Scozzafava is a less-than-ideal candidate, let’s look at the Democrat choice:
Interestingly, until his nomination by the Democrats, Bill Owens was unaffiliated with any party. And looking at his credentials, you can see he’d be a perfect candidate for whichever party managed to snag him:
Owens is a 1971 summa cum laude graduate of Manhattan College with a degree in business administration and a 1974 top-half graduate of Fordham University School of Law.
Owens is a managing partner at Stafford, Owens, Piller, Murnane & Trombley…The firm is an offshoot of one founded by Ron Stafford, a prominent Republican state senator.
…in 2004, he was appointed by Republican Governor George Pataki to the College Council at that university.
Notice the strong affiliations with the Republican Party before his nomination by the Democrats. Maybe he was another potential RINO who saw his opportunity? Hard to say.
There has been significant blowback against the Republican machine. The Conservative Party, which has always been a factor to contend with in New York politics, has nominated Doug Hoffman:
The Conservative Party of New York decided not to cross-endorse the Republican candidate. On August 7, 2009, the Conservative Party chose Doug Hoffman to be its nominee. After McHugh’s nomination was confirmed by the U.S. Senate, he resigned his seat in Congress. Four days later, Hoffman signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge sponsored by Americans for Tax Reform. The Taxpayer Protection Pledge is a written pledge taken mostly by Republicans to oppose and vote against all income tax increases for individuals and businesses.
From the Club for Growth, which has endorsed him:
Hoffman, a certified public accountant and managing partner at a Lake Placid accounting firm, has sworn-off Congressional earmarks and pledged to oppose all tax increases if elected – a clear distinction among the candidates in this three-way contest. In fact, Scozzafava and Democrat Bill Owens both favor higher taxes, bigger government, and more spending, including President Obama’s failed “stimulus” package and big labor’s odious “Card Check” bill.
So there you have the players:
- a Republican RINO, Scozzafava, who has lots of leftist tentacles in state politics and an endorsement by ACORN;
- a newbie, Owens, running as a Democrat. He’s on record as favoring big government ideas. The Dems hope he will snag a seat in what has been till now safely Republican; and,
- the spoiler, another newbie, Hoffman, who is the Conservative Party nominee. His platform differs sharply from the other two candidates.
The supporting players are:
- the usual Republican Party voices, including an endorsement for Scozzafava by Newt Gingrich, which he may live to regret. There is little active enthusiasm for Scozzafava by other House members, though she has gotten support from the bosses. This is a big election for the national machine. If Scozzafava loses, they might get the idea that the political climate really has changed. It seems that nothing less will penetrate;
- the Democrat political machine which is working on both sides in this one. If Owens wins, they have a new Democrat seat. If Scozzafava wins, they still have the seat in the bag (so to speak) since her vote will mostly be in the Democrat column anyway, so it’s one less vote to worry about.
- the various and sundry advocacy groups, particularly the Club for Growth, whose political action committee has gotten behind the Conservative candidate with a $300,000.00 campaign chest and all the political will it can muster.
- the media, in its various forms, which is proving to be more clueless than usual. For example The Hill called Scozzafava a “centrist”. If she’s a centrist, I’m a leprechaun. And even The Washington Times referred to this battle as one between “the Tea Partiers and the regular GOP”. That opinion is evidence of a deep ignorance about the work the Club for Growth has been doing for years, long before the “Tea Parties” came into existence. It also displays a lack of understanding about the Conservative Party in New York. In adddition, the Times referred to Scozzafava as a “conservative icon”. I can’t remember a more willfully misleading editorial in all the years I’ve been reading that paper.
I am solidly behind the Conservative candidate, Hoffman. The other two will only increase the depth and breadth of governmental overreach. Erick at RedState and Michelle Malkin have both done yeoman’s work in exposing the machinations involved here.
Today, Erick has a post up about Dick Armey’s trip to the 23rd New York congressional district to fight for Hoffman:
It has been much rumored, but not fully confirmed until now. Dick Armey, the House Majority Leader after the 1994 Conservative Revolution will go to New York to campaign for Doug Hoffman.
In an exclusive conversation with RedState, Armey explains his reasons.
“We win when we are us. We lose when we are Democrat lite,” he told me. In New York’s 23rd Congressional District, two Democrats and a Republican are running for Congress. One of the Democrats just happens to have an “R” next to her name and the Republican is running on the Conservative Party ticket thanks to the way the candidates were chosen.
“We attract people by being small government conservatives,” Armey told me. “Big Government Republicans, though they call themselves Big Government Conservatives, do not win. I would tell the Republican Party leadership it cannot win if it insists on recruiting and supporting candidates out of step with the voters.”
…He continued by saying it was “baloney” that Hoffman could not beat Scozzafava. “People are largely disaffected with Obama and we need to draw sharp distinctions,” he said.
Armey said he does not think the establishment within the Republican Party really understands the mood of the country right now. “There is a sharp difference between now and November. If we knew then what we know now, I doubt Obama would have been elected…”
Mark Tapscott at The Washington Examiner has a good description of the problem with the Republicans:
Just when it seems congressional Republicans have finally gotten the message about standing on principle before grasping for power, they go and pull a Dede Scozzafava.
That’s what this kind of machine politics will become known as in the future: “pulling a Dede”. I think it is a worn-out gambit and the party had better freshen its skill set if it wants to win any future seats.
Incredibly, National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, is throwing its money and resources behind Scozzafava.
And what kind of Republican is Scozzafava? She favors unlimited abortion rights. She favors Big Labor’s Card Check. She favors government bailouts like the Troubled Asset Relief Program. She favors more government spending. She also favors higher taxes, but doesn’t appear to get in a hurry about paying them, as earlier this year there were multiple liens against her companies for $192,000 in unpaid state and federal taxes.
There is something else about Scozzafava – she has repeatedly run for the New York Legislature with the endorsement of ACORN’s Working Families Party. If you know anything about the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, you know the WFP was established to give the most far-left fringe candidates a comfortable place on the ballot.
In other words, if she is elected, Scozzafava’s voting record in Congress likely will be at least as extreme as that of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Considering her tax problems, you also have to wonder how long it will be before Scozzafava defends Charlie Rangel, thereby demonstrating that imitation can also be the lowest form of flattery.
If you doubt that assessment, consider this: Scozzafava has been endorsed by Daily Kos, the clarion voice of the loony left in the blogosphere.
Daily Kos??? Jesus, Mary and Joseph why is this woman running on a Republican ticket???
Mr. Tapscott reasonably asks about the National Congressional Committee Chairman:
…what is Sessions smoking?
That is an especially relevant question when one takes a look at Doug Hoffman, the man who could be the GOP candidate instead of Scozzafava. An extremely successful entrepreneur and family man from Lake Placid, Hoffman is the candidate of the Conservative Party of New York.
For those who don’t remember, the Conservative Party of New York was behind the 1970 election of Sen. James L. Buckley, brother of William F. Buckley Jr. Buckley defeated Charlie Goodell, a male version of Scozzafava who was appointed by then-Gov. Nelson Rockefeller following the tragic assassination of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy.
Goodell was a classic liberal GOPer, who sought to capitalize on the growing public dissatisfaction with the Vietnam War. Buckley’s winning campaign slogan – “Isn’t it time we have a senator?” – captured traditional Republicans, independents, and culturally conservative blue-collar Democrats.
It’s déjà vu all over again for David Keene, the chairman of the American Conservative Union who worked for Buckley and later for President Ronald Reagan:
“Republicans, conservatives, independents and moderate Democrats will rally to Doug because he represents their values and because no one wants to be forced to ‘choose’ between two virtually identical and equally distasteful major-party candidates,” said Keene.
This campaign by the Republicans to put a big spender in Congress is a disgrace. And they wonder why all of us have discarded the Republican mantle? These people have been inside the Beltway far too long. They can’t tell the difference between principle and politics-as-usual.
Anyone who feels inclined to support Hoffman against the machine can check in here. We certainly would if we could still afford it. Back in the old days, I used to give money to the Club for Growth because they’re dedicated to reducing government interference in prosperity:
Club for Growth is a national network of thousands of Americans, from all walks of life, who believe that prosperity and opportunity come through economic freedom. We work to promote public policies that promote economic growth primarily through legislative involvement, issue advocacy, research, training and educational activity.
The longer Obama is in office, the stronger the Club for Growth will become.