Proof positive that the GOP and the NRA still are clueless about what is happening in this country. General Sebastian Snowflake will likely defend this as well. Get this, the NRA endorsed this woman because, drumroll please, "She is the only candidate with a public record on guns." So what they're saying is they don't endorse non-incumbents that haven't been chosen by the party bosses? There's a dead elephant in the middle of the tracks, people. And they wonder why folks are pissed at the GOP & the NRA. Sheesh.
Imaginary blood in the snow: General Sebastian Snowflake, Chief of Stiffs of the NRA Pragmatist Army, pauses in his bloody, fighting retreat from constitutional principles for a Kodak moment at Valley Forge.
GOP pick sparks revolt on right
By ALEX ISENSTADT & JOSH KRAUSHAAR
10/8/09 5:03 AM EDT
The nominee in a looming House special election is at the heart of an angry dispute between conservatives and Republican House leadership, a rift so serious that it threatens the party’s chances of keeping control of the upstate New York seat.
At issue is the National Republican Congressional Committee’s support for Dede Scozzafava, a New York assemblywoman who conservatives assert is so liberal that they absolutely cannot support her candidacy. Instead, many conservative groups are rallying behind Doug Hoffman, a third-party candidate running on the Conservative Party line, even though their support for him might pave the way for a Democratic takeover of the seat recently vacated by GOP Rep. John McHugh.
At a private Washington luncheon attended by activists last week, frustrations spilled over, and several attendees demanded to know why NRCC Chairman Pete Sessions of Texas, who was the featured speaker, was supporting Scozzafava over the more conservative Hoffman.
After Sessions conceded that Scozzafava’s record on gay marriage and abortion fell short of where those at the lunch wanted it to be, he sought to defend her record on taxes. At that point, according to two sources who were present, the Texas congressman came under forceful pushback from several conservative leaders who insisted Scozzafava fell far short in that area as well.
“I was flabbergasted that he could come into a meeting of conservatives and be as defiant as he was,” said one person who was at the Free Congress Foundation’s Paul Weyrich lunch meeting, adding that the Texas congressman “stuck a finger in our eye.”
“It was heated,” remarked another person present at the lunch. “There were some raised voices.”
As one of three nationally watched contests taking place on Election Day, the highly competitive New York special election race is being closely monitored for clues about the design of the 2010 midterm election landscape.
But unlike the two other key contests taking place in November — the Virginia and New Jersey gubernatorial races, where Republicans have rallied behind their nominees — the New York contest has revealed deep unrest in the GOP ranks over what many view as a decision by state and national party leaders to put politics ahead of conservative principles.
“She’s not even a moderate. She is a radical, ultraleftist who has an ‘R’ next to her name,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, chairwoman of Susan B. Anthony List, an organization that backs female candidates who oppose abortion and has endorsed Hoffman. “If we elect this woman, we’re going to be stuck with her for a very long time.”
“The conservative coalition is deeply demoralized by this move,” said Dannenfelser. “Why shouldn’t we be working against [the NRCC] when they are working to undermine us on the issues?”
Club for Growth Executive Director David Keating, whose deep-pocketed organization is already flooding New York’s North Country with ads targeting Scozzafava, slammed her as a “flaming liberal” whose politics are to the left of many House Democrats.
“The Republican Party bosses in New York state are not in touch with the Republican primary voting electorate,” said Keating. “She would never win a primary there, if there was one.”
As referenced by Keating, part of the frustration over Scozzafava is the way she claimed the GOP nomination in July — not through the standard primary election process but, rather, on the third vote taken by the 11 Republican county chairmen within the 23rd Congressional District.
Local Republicans tapped Scozzafava as the nominee in July because they believed her centrist views would appeal to a coalition of centrist Republicans, independents and Democrats in a moderate-minded district that Barack Obama won with 52 percent of the vote in 2008. The national party supports her for the same reason: her perceived electability.
“It is definitely frustrating,” said one well-connected Washington-based conservative activist. “It is frustrating for them to be putting so much money into the race when she is so bad.”
“They have said, ‘This is the situation we have.’ But on the other hand, their support is more enthusiastic than you would want it to be,” the source added.
While the National Rifle Association is backing Scozzafava, many other conservative-oriented groups have enthusiastically thrown their backing to Hoffman, an accounting executive who unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination in July.
Aside from the Club for Growth and the SBA List, Hoffman has won endorsements from the Eagle Forum, Campaign for Working Families and the American Conservative Union, which the conservative publication Human Events reported this week had told its supporters to withhold their donations from the NRCC.
On Tuesday, Hoffman won the endorsement of New York State Right to Life’s political action committee, which said it was “shocked and dismayed when the Republican Party chose a rabidly pro-abortion candidate to represent the congressional district formerly held by Rep. John McHugh.”
Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long distributed a memo Wednesday calling for a moratorium on donations to the NRCC “until that organization ceases support for Assemblywoman Scozzafava and clarifies its plans for candidate recruitment and support going forward.”
“The NRCC’s support for liberal Assemblywoman Scozzafava is a disturbing indication that the NRCC is test-marketing a campaign message blurring the differences between the parties instead of principled opposition to the liberal Democrats’ agenda,” read the memo, which circulated among conservative activists in Washington. “The “me-too” approach is both sure to fail politically and deeply dishonest to the NRCC’s core financial supporters. The donors who sacrifice to write checks to the NRCC don’t expect their efforts to be diverted to liberals like Assemblywoman Scozzafava.”
Publicly, Republican leaders don’t express concern about the conservative backlash over Scozzafava.
“She’d fit in just fine,” House Minority Leader John Boehner told reporters Wednesday when asked where Scozzafava would fit in ideologically in his conference. “I’ve contributed to her election, and we’re urging all of our members to help bring this race home.”
Still, it’s clear that discomfort with Scozzafava runs deep, even within House leadership.
House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence, an Indiana conservative, has pointedly refused to endorse or donate to Scozzafava’s campaign. Asked in an interview with POLITICO late last week if he was going to support Scozzafava, Pence only smiled and responded, “No comment.”
Pressed further, Pence smiled and nodded his head as if to say he would have nothing more to say.
Privately, other senior Republicans acknowledge the rancor and fear that it imperils their hopes of retaining a seat that McHugh held easily for nine terms.
“It’s a tough climate for us,” one GOP congressman acknowledged this week. “You never want to see a split.”
On Wednesday morning, one week after the altercation, Sessions prodded members in a closed-door conferencewide meeting at the Capitol Hill Club to back Scozzafava, while moderate Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) urged those in attendance to donate to her campaign.
Hoffman, who runs an accounting business with five offices across the district, is an unlikely recipient of national conservative enthusiasm. Before being embraced by the Conservative Party, he had no experience running a campaign — he didn’t even make it to the final round of contenders in July.
Though he currently trails Scozzafava — who is the front-runner — and Democratic nominee Bill Owens, according to a recent Siena University poll, if he doesn’t win, Hoffman could conceivably draw enough GOP votes to hand the seat to Owens.
“I’m the only common-sense conservative Republican in this race, and there’s two very liberal opponents who don’t reflect the ideals and values of the voters in this district,” Hoffman told POLITICO. “I’m not a spoiler. I’m the only real Republican in this race.”
Carl Forti, a veteran Republican consultant with upstate New York roots, said there was little question that Hoffman’s pull with conservatives could play a major role in determining the outcome.
“Having a credible Conservative Party candidate on the ballot is a major problem,” said Forti. “If Hoffman can raise money and if the Club for Growth spends what they’ve committed, the possibility exists that this could become a two-person race between Hoffman and the Democrat.”
Cognizant of Hoffman’s impact on the race, the NRCC has been spending as much time undermining Hoffman as it has attacking Owens.
The committee has blasted out near-daily press releases questioning Hoffman’s honesty and points to his immediate support of Scozzafava after she secured the nomination — he sent her an e-mail asking how he could help her campaign.