Friday, October 23, 2009

Why Does Doug Hoffman Matter?

From C4P written by Rob Harrison

By now you may have heard, that Gov. Palin endorsed Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman for Congress in the special election in New York's 23rd Congressional District. If you're a political junkie, this probably makes loads of sense to you. If you aren't, though, you might be wondering what's going on;

First, NY23 is a huge rural district (the largest House district east of the Mississippi) covering much of northern New York.

It's been considered a safe GOP seat, having been in Republican hands since the Civil War; it's more of a conservative-leaning district than a solid red one, but it has a long history of electing Republicans like its previous officeholder, Jim McHugh (lifetime ACU rating: 74), though it's been close to break-even in the last three presidential elections (and gone narrowly for the Democrat in 2000 and 2008). It's currently vacant because Rep. McHugh was tabbed by the Obama administration to serve as Secretary of the Army. And it's a bone of contention because with his departure, the state GOP basically chose a Democrat as their candidate to replace him.

That might sound like an exaggeration, but it really isn't. Michelle Malkin labeled Dede Scozzafava a "an ACORN-friendly, union-pandering, tax-and-spend radical Republican." Listen to Sen. Fred Thompson lay out her positions and you'll realize that if anything, Malkin understated the point. This is a woman who would be every conservative's least-favorite RINO from the minute she hit the Hill. As NR summed her up,
Not only pro-choice and in favor of homosexual marriage—common if distasteful concessions to the secular liberals’ agenda—she also supports some of the most odious items on the Left’s wish-list, including the “card check” initiative that would put a big cudgel in the hands of Big Labor while effectively disenfranchising millions of American workers who may not desire to become Teamsters, SEIU members, or similar. She signed the Americans for Tax Reform pledge to oppose tax hikes but immediately declared that she was not bound by having done so. It is no surprise that she is supported by the public-employees unions, ACORN — and Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas Zúñiga. (Really.)

It may be too generous even to say that Ms. Scozzafava is a RINO—Republican In Name Only—inasmuch as she has emanated mixed signals about her commitment to remaining a Republican post-election. (Her spokesman now affirms to The Weekly Standard that Ms. Scozzafava is a “vote for John Boehner to be speaker of the House of Representatives,” if she is in office in 2011; earlier, her campaign had declined to answer that question.) It is entirely conceivable that Ms. Scozzafava will be tempted to switch to the party whose values she shares. She will be especially vulnerable to that temptation if she should face a tough primary challenge in 2010; given that Ms. Scozzafava is to the left of a great many Democratic voters, to say nothing of the typical Republican, the GOP bosses who foisted her upon the party have all but ensured that she does face such a challenge. They very well may have created the next Arlen Specter.
Apparently, Scozzafava was handed the nomination by the party machine as an act of favoritism because of her connections with county GOP chairmen in the state—the machine picked one of its own, and hang principles. The amazing thing is that the national party machine fell into line behind them; though 90% of House Republicans refused to support Scozzafava, the Republican National Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee sent donations in the six-figure range to keep her campaign afloat, and Newt Gingrich endorsed her.

However, that's not all there is to it. New York also has a Conservative Party; sometimes it endorses GOP candidates, but sometimes it sends up its own, and sometimes they win. William F. Buckley's brother James won election to the U. S. Senate in the '70s as a Conservative Party candidate. In this instance, given that Scozzafava is to the left of a good chunk of the Democrats in the House (to say nothing of the Republican caucus), they refused to go along with the GOP on this one, instead nominating Doug Hoffman. NR describes Hoffman as
an across-the-board conservative with an especial interest in fighting runaway federal spending and trimming the excesses associated with the bailouts.
Perhaps of equal interest, though, is the fact that like Gov. Palin, Doug Hoffman is an ordinary barbarian getting into politics for reasons of principle. Robert Stacy McCain pointed this out in his recent profile:
"Doug is a different kind of candidate," said Ryan, his voice hoarse from a long week of 14-hour workdays. "He's a citizen who's had enough."

The son of a single mom, Hoffman started work at age 14, pumping gas in his hometown of Saranac Lake, N.Y. He served for six years in the National Guard and Army Reserves, earned his way through college, became a CPA, and is now managing partner in a large accounting firm.
Unlike his Republican opponent, who is a machine politician handed a nomination for her connections—no doubt the reason for Gov. Palin's jab that "best of all, Doug Hoffman has not been anointed by any political machine"—he earned the Conservative Party's nomination for his principles, and has been showing he deserves it by his performance. As Stacy McCain notes, he's racked up quite a lot of national support:
Hoffman has been endorsed by the "9/12" organization—the political arm of the Tea Party movement, which staged major rallies on Sept. 12, including the 9/12 March On DC—and says the grassroots activists are the foot soldiers of his campaign.

He recently held "six regional meeting with the Tea Party people," Hoffman said, and many visitors to his Web site have made online contributions of $9.12. The conservative Red State blog recently set a $250,000 fund-raising goal for Hoffman's campaign.

In addition to Tea Party activists and major conservative blogs, Hoffmans third-party candidacy has also been endorsed by a broad range of free-market and social-conservative organizations, including the Club For Growth, the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, and the Political Action Committee of the American Conservative Union, which hosted Wednesday's conference call. The ACU's David Keene called the New York special election "an incredibly important race."

Political insiders now view Scozzafava as a certain loser.
He's also won formal support from Bill Kristol, Sen. Fred Dalton Thompson, former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, and now of course Gov. Palin, on the grounds that
Doug Hoffman stands for the principles that all Republicans should share: smaller government, lower taxes, strong national defense, and a commitment to individual liberty.
All of these Republican leaders are standing for conservative principle against the formal structures of their own party. Rep. Armey has already said that he will be campaigning for Hoffman. This is a chance to send another strong conservative to Congress; it's also, perhaps even more importantly, a chance to send the GOP hierarchy a message: we don't want any more RINOs. We want conservative candidates who'll stand up for the principles in which we believe, which are supposed to be the core of the Republican Party—and if you insist on rewarding party elites and the in crowd over good conservative candidates, we'll go elsewhere, and take our money with us.

This is why Gov. Palin's endorsement of Hoffman is so important. She declared that she would support "candidates who believe in the right things, regardless of their party label or affiliation"; now she's shown the world, and her own party, that she meant what she said. In doing so, she has no doubt given Hoffman a boost; given her unquestioned pro-life credentials, her support will probably especially help him among the sizable percentage of conservative Catholics in the district. More than that, she's joined Kristol, Sen. Thompson and others in firing a shot across the bow of the RNC and the NRCC. This isn't just about one House seat, as important as that is; it's about the future of the Republican Party, and who's going to control it. Will this be a party of, by and for conservatives, or of, by, and for the party elite?

As Mark Levin says, this is a national battle, and it's one we need to fight wherever and whenever we have a chance (his comments begin at the 2:45 mark, after he reads from Gov. Palin's Facebook statement):

At this point, if he can raise the money to keep his campaign at a high level, Doug Hoffman can win this race. Indeed, if he can raise enough, he probably should win this race. Gov. Palin ended her endorsement of Hoffman by encouraging people to donate to his campaign: If you're in a position to do so, you might want to take her up on that.


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