Monday, November 2, 2009

23 RD Congressional District Special Election-The Fight for Control of the GOP

When Republicans lost control of both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives in the 2006 congressional elections, and with their stunning defeats in the 2008 Presidential elections, the GOP has been in floundering shambles. Since these defeats, there has been an internal battle for which faction of the party will control it's future. It has been and is moderate-republicans in mortal combat with neo-conservative republicans as to who will define and be the face of The Republican Party. Tomorrow's special election in the 23 rd Congressional district is a major showdown in the shaping and future of the GOP.

The 23 rd Congressional District is in upstate New York and has been a Republican stronghold for generations. This district has not elected a Democrat to Congress in more than 100 years.

Earlier this year, after President Obama selected sitting 23 rd District Republican Congressman John Mc Hugh to be Secretary of the Army, under New York State Constitutional Law, the governor called a special election with candidates chosen by the State Committees from each party.

The Republican choice was Dede Scozzafara, a former Mayor and current State Assembly woman in the 23 rd District. Scozzafara is a moderate Republican believing in the 'right of choice' in the abortion debate.

The Democrat choice is businessman/attorney Bill Owens who has not held elected office in the past. His stances on the issues are not too unlike Scozzafara's and in the beginning the race did not look all that exciting UNTIL.........

........the neo-con faction of the Republican Party took issue with the Republican State Party choice of Scozzafara and put their own candidate up for election. His name is Doug Hoffman, an accountant and ideologue of all-issues neo-conservative.

And the endorsements followed, as did the money----lots of it, mostly from the national neo-con coffers. Sarah Palin, (Joe the Plumber), Rush Limbaugh and the Cheney's endorsed neo-con Hoffman, while Newt Gingrich and RNC chair Michael Steele endorsed the moderate Scozzafara. Let the 'games' begin!

Neo-con operatives took control of Hoffman's campaign and the 'swift boat' type ads started running, against Republican Scozzafara. In public and private polls conducted last week, there seemed to be a near dead heat among the three major candidates, with Scozzara running last. This past weekend, Dede Scozzafara suspended her candidacy citing money issues and not having enough funds to combat the national neo-con political contingency and subsequently endorsed her Democrat opponent. Now, it's two-way race, although Scozzafara's name will remain on the ballot.

In still another twist, today VP Joe Biden is speaking directly to moderate Republicans and getting warm receptions. At the same time, neo-con Republicans are getting decent receptions from conservative Democrats. It's a circus!

Should the neo-con candidate win tomorrows election, it will embolden their ideology and serve as a tinplate for many future congressional elections. Should they lose, it will be an essential victory for moderate Republican philosophy and strengthen the faces of those representing it.

And so, we wait with interest to the outcome of the 23 rd Congressional District election.

Who thought special elections in an 'off' year would not be interesting?


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