Center right blogs made a coordinated effort to call on moderate Republican Dede Scozzafava to withdraw her candidacy from a three-way special election in New York, to clear the way for their favored candidate, conservative Doug Hoffman on Thursday.
The race for the 23rd Congressional seat has quickly become a test between the Republican establishment and the conservative base. The National Republican Congressional Committee and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich endorse Mrs. Scozzafava. The “tea party” grassroots movement and former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, who threw his official endorsement to Mr. Hoffman Thursday morning, on the other hand, support Mr. Hoffman.
The conservative blogs calling on Mrs. Scozzafava are generally well-regarded within Republican circles, so much so that many of them, like RedState.com and Jim Geraghty’s “Campaign Spot” blog on National Review, are listed on the National Republican Congressional Committee’s website. The NRCC, however, is supporting Scozzafava.
Mr. Armey told the Washington Times over the phone, while driving with Mr. Hoffman to campaign events on Thursday, that other national GOP leaders were making a mistake in endorsing “big tent Republicans who act like Democrats.”
He said, “A dramatic win [for Hoffman] will be an eye-opener to the national Republican Party and frankly, to the Democrats as well. The Republican Party can win the majority back but only if they consolidate the public’s appreciation of them as the party of small government and this is the chance to learn that lesson.”
Mr. Armey, who is chairman of FreedomWorks, a chief organizer of the massive 9/12 tea party protests, added the tea parties prove his “big tent” is bigger than the GOP’s. “Our big tent is people who like liberty,” he said.
Mr. Hoffman said he was grateful for the grassroots support he was receiving. “It’s beyond my expectations,” he said. “It’s like a tsunami and at this point someone should tell Dede Scozzafava you can’t swim against it.”
And they did on Thursday afternoon. Influential bloggers organized an effort to post blogs at 12 EST on Thursday asking Mrs. Scozzafava to step down, capping off a tumultuous week for the moderate candidate.
She was embarrassed on a national level when it was revealed her husband, a labor union leader, called the cops on Weekly Standard Reporter John McCormack, who questioned her on labor union issues and abortion. Her campaign told the press the writer had “yelled” at her, but when he played his audio recording of the exchange for the Associated Press, she was proven wrong. The next day, she attempted to hold a press conference in front of Mr. Hoffman’s campaign headquarters, only to have it hijacked by his supporters who swarmed behind her with their signs, resulting in what was widely laughed-off as a “press conference fail.”
When asked for comment about the blogger revolt, NRCC spokesman Paul Lindsey stood by his candidate as the only one who could win. “We will continue to remind central and northern New Yorkers that a vote for Doug Hoffman or Bill Owens is a vote for Nancy Pelosi and her far left, radical agendam” he said in an email.
Scozzafava spokesman Matt Burns said in an email to the Washington Times that:”Our campaign is focused on speaking with the voters of the 23rd Congressional District. Our opponent may want to try doing the same.” He pointed to a news story by local news station headlined “Hoffman to skip local appearance for national media.” The problem was that Mr. Hoffman had agreed to appear on “The Glenn Beck Show” on Thursday evening instead of attending a “Meet the Candidates” event in Wanakena. The Democratic candidate, Bill Owens, is not attending the local event, either, according to the story.
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich defended his Scozzafava endorsement on the Washington Times’ morning radio program, America’s Morning News, early Thursday morning.
He said national leaders should defer to the local organizations who selected her and she wasn’t all that liberal. “I would say to every Republican: you have a chance to elect somebody who has signed the no tax pledge; she’s endorsed by the National Rifle Association; she is opposed to cap and trade and energy taxes; she is opposed to the Obama health plan; and, she will vote against Nancy Pelosi as Speaker,” Mr. Gingrich said. “And that is a pretty good starting point - even if she is more liberal than I am and on other issues I disagree with her completely.”