Revolt in New York Beltway
bigs misjudged public dismay against the Democratic agenda in Washington.
Saturday's decision by Republican Dede Scozzafava to drop out of tomorrow's special Congressional election in upstate New York is a potentially big political moment that could help to return the GOP to first principles—or could lead to internecine ruin. Much will depend on how GOP leaders and conservative activists respond.
Picked by GOP elites without a primary and with a voting record to the left of many Albany Democrats, Ms. Scozzafava faced a revolt by local and national conservatives in favor of businessman Doug Hoffman, who was nominated on the Conservative Party line. The longtime GOP assemblywoman saw herself falling in the polls and yesterday endorsed Democratic lawyer Bill Owens, who could still win the GOP-leaning seat with a plurality.
The voter revolt ought to be a lesson to the GOP's backroom boys, especially in New York state, where the old Al D'Amato insider club has led the party to irrelevance. GOP state chairman Joe Mondello, now thankfully retired, and Beltway bigs misjudged public dismay against the Democratic agenda in Washington. Nominating a candidate who "can win" in the Northeast does not have to mean someone whose voting record is more liberal on taxes and unions than that of most Blue Dog Democrats.
But that lesson will be for naught if conservatives conclude that their victory is reason to challenge any candidate who doesn't agree with them on every issue. The truth is that some conservatives are as bloody-minded and intolerant of all dissent as the hard left is at the Daily Kos. A majority political party requires a far more diverse coalition than the audience for your average right-wing blogger or talk show host. Some of those voices prefer having Democrats in power because it drives up their own ratings.
Democrats did themselves no favors by driving Joe Lieberman out of their party, and conservatives will do their cause no good by forcing GOP candidates in Illinois, California and Connecticut to sound like Tom DeLay. If conservatives now revolt against every GOP candidate who disagrees with them on trade, immigration or abortion, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid will keep their majorities for a very long time.
Sunday, November 01, 2009
Dede Scozzafava Endorses Democrat Owens, or, Newt Eats Crow (NY-23)
Ditto to Conservative Punk!