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Is Pawlenty Endorsement of Hoffman in NY-23 Contest the Death Knell for Liberal Republicans?

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Pawlenty criticizes Republican nominee as someone "Undeserving of wearing the Republican jersey."

This week Governor Tim Pawlenty joined the ranks of Sarah Palin, Senator Jim DeMint, former Senator and Presidential candidate Fred Thompson, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, businessman and former presidential candidate Steve Forbes, and Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann by endorsing the Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman in New York's 23rd Congressional District special election that will be held next Tuesday.

Hoffman is running against Democrat Bill Owens and Republican Dede Scozzafava in the race to fill the seat vacated by former 9-term Republican John McHugh, who won 65.3 percent in his reelection bid last November. McHugh was nominated by President Barack Obama to become the Secretary of the Army last June and assumed the post last month.

The Conservative Party of New York cross-endorses Republican candidates in the vast majority of Congressional races, but has fielded its own, stand-alone candidates in 59 general election matchups since 1992 - usually when it deems the Republican nominee too liberal (as they do in the case of Assemblywoman Scozzafava) or when there is no GOP candidate on the ballot.

Several liberal Republican incumbents (e.g. Rep. Chris Shays, Senator Lincoln Chafee) have recently seen their political careers end in the left wing of the GOP's last stronghold, the Northeast. Liberal Republicans are finding their policy positions not liberal enough to win the votes of Democrats, and not conservative enough to hold the votes of Republicans - with incumbents sometimes even struggling to win the GOP nomination (e.g. Senator Arlen Specter in 2004).

On FOX News' On the Record with Greta Van Susteren Tuesday evening, Governor Pawlenty did not so much sing the praises of the Conservative nominee Hoffman as he did lambaste the Republican Scozzafava, stating, "This is not somebody who I think is deserving of wearing the Republican jersey."

Pawlenty added:

"If we're going to have a Republican candidate, they need to meet at least a minimum threshold of being Republican or conservative. There is a range of people that can meet that definition - we want the party to be able to have some differences internally - but the candidate they endorsed here doesn't even meet that minimum threshold...She does not even meet the minimum requirement of being a Republican - even broadly defined."

Pawlenty then criticized Scozzafava's record on supporting tax increases in the New York Assembly and her policy positions supporting card check, the federal stimulus, and bank bailouts.

"If you go down her record - not her promises going forward as a Republican candidate - this is an individual who has really defied almost every important issue, at least from my standpoint, for Republicans."

So Pawlenty - and many other notable Republicans, including Michele Bachmann, who endorsed Hoffman a week ago - seem to have taken a hard-line stance against the dying breed of liberal Republicans who used to populate the Northeast, by endorsing the Conservative Party nominee Doug Hoffman instead. Hoffman's numbers have been rising in the polls, with most of his support seeming to come at the expense of Scozzafava.

And how unprecedented would a strong performance by Hoffman be in recent New York electoral history?

A Smart Politics analysis of the 59 stand-alone Conservative Party nominees in U.S. House races in New York State since 1992 finds Hoffman's high poll numbers (~ 30 percent) unfamiliar territory for the Conservative Party in the Empire State.

McHugh's 23rd District seat has not had a Conservative Party nominee since redistricting in 2002. McHugh's seat prior to redistricting was in the 24th District, which did have a Conservative Party nominee when McHugh won Republican Congressman David O'Brien Martin's open seat in 1992. In that race, the Conservative candidate, Morrison Hosley, won 8.7 percent of the vote.

Overall, Conservative Party candidates in New York U.S. House races have averaged only 4.5 percent of the vote in 59 races since 1992. After excluding the 13 races during this span in which there was no Republican Party candidate on the ballot and the 2 races in which there was no Democratic Party candidate on the ballot, Conservative Party nominees averaged just 2.9 percent of the vote.

The best showings by Conservative Party candidates since 1992 have been David Vicker's 19.2 percent in 1998's 23rd CD race and Vicker's 16.8 percent showing in 2000. In 2002, in the newly-drawn 24th district, David Walrath received 21.6 percent of the vote in a race without a Democrat on the ballot.

Republican candidates have won just 9 of the 59 U.S. House races with Conservative Party nominees on the ballot (in a Democratic-heavy state). In races with Republican, Democratic, and Conservative nominees all on the ballot - as will be the case next Tuesday - the Democrats have won 84 percent of the time (winning 37, compared to 7 for the GOP).

Stand-Alone Conservative Party Nominees for New York U.S. House Races, 1992-2008

Year
District
Candidate
%
GOP on ballot
Victor
2008
05
Jun Policarpio
1.9
Yes
Democrat
2008
09
Alfred F. Donohue
6.9
No
Democrat
2008
11
Cartrell Gore
0.8
Yes
Democrat
2008
13
Timothy J. Cochrane
3.1
Yes
Democrat
2008
27
Harold W. Schroeder
3.0
Yes
Democrat
2006
08
Dennis E. Adornato
1.3
Yes
Democrat
2006
10
Ernest Johnson
1.9
Yes
Democrat
2006
11
Marianna Blume
1.4
Yes
Democrat
2004
10
Mariana Blume
1.0
Yes
Democrat
2004
11
Sol Lieberman
3.1
No
Democrat
2004
17
Kevin Brawley
1.9
Yes
Democrat
2004
24
David L. Walrath
9.2
Yes
GOP
2004
29
Mark W. Assini
6.4
Yes
GOP
2002
05
Perry S. Reich
7.7
No
Democrat
2002
08
Alan Jay Gerber
3.2
Yes
Democrat
2002
10
Herbert F. Ryan
2.2
No
Democrat
2002
11
Alice Gaffney
0.9
Yes
Democrat
2002
12
Cesar Estevez
4.2
No
Democrat
2002
24
David L. Walrath
21.6
Yes*
GOP
2000
02
Richard N. Thompson
5.7
Yes
Democrat
2000
07
Robert E. Hurley
2.9
Yes
Democrat
2000
08
Anthony A. LaBella
1.0
Yes
Democrat
2000
10
Ernest Johnson
0.6
Yes
Democrat
2000
11
Cartrell Gore
0.7
Yes
Democrat
2000
12
Caesar Estevez
0.9
Yes
Democrat
2000
15
Frank Della Valle
0.3
Yes
Democrat
2000
16
Richard Retcho
0.5
Yes
Democrat
2000
23
David B. Vickers
16.8
Yes
GOP
1998
07
Richard Retcho
5.4
Yes
Democrat
1998
09
Arthur J. Smith
4.7
Yes
Democrat
1998
10
Ernest Johnson
1.5
Yes
Democrat
1998
12
Angel Diaz
2.6
Yes
Democrat
1998
15
Patrick McManus
1.1
Yes
Democrat
1998
16
Owen Camp
1.1
Yes
Democrat
1998
18
Daniel McMahon
11.4
No
Democrat
1998
23
David Vickers
19.2
Yes*
GOP
1998
28
Paul Britton
2.7
Yes
Democrat
1996
08
George A. Galip, Jr
1.5
Yes
Democrat
1996
09
Michael Mossa
3.9
Yes
Democrat
1996
14
Joseph A. Lavezzo
1.2
Yes
Democrat
1996
16
Owen Camp
0.8
Yes
Democrat
1996
19
Joseph J. DioGuardi
9.0
Yes
Democrat
1994
04
David A. Levy
8.7
Yes
GOP
1994
07
Robert E. Hurley
12.9
No
Democrat
1994
08
Margaret V. Byrnes
2.2
Yes
Democrat
1994
10
Mildred K. Mahoney
1.7
Yes
Democrat
1994
11
Michael Gaffney
1.6
Yes
Democrat
1994
12
Genevieve R. Brennan
6.3
No
Democrat
1994
16
Michael Walters
3.7
No
Democrat
1994
17
Kevin Brawley
2.3
Yes
Democrat
1994
19
Joseph J. DioGuardi
7.2
Yes
GOP
1992
08
Margaret V. Byrnes
3.0
Yes
Democrat
1992
09
Alice G. Gaffney
11.4
No
Democrat
1992
10
Owen Augustin
4.2
No
Democrat
1992
11
Michael Gaffney
5.0
No
Democrat
1992
15
Jose A. Suero
3.1
No
Democrat
1992
17
Kevin Brawley
2.6
Yes
Democrat
1992
23
Geoffrey P. Grace
3.7
Yes
GOP
1992
24
Morrison J. Hosley, Jr
8.7
Yes
GOP
* Denotes race with no Democratic Party candidate on the ballot. Source: Office of the Clerk, U.S. House of Representatives.

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2 Comments


  • Say what you will of Newt Gingrich, but I believe that Gingrich says it best...

    snip//"I just find it fascinating that my many friends who claim to be against Washington having too much power, they claim to be in favor of the 10th Amendment giving states back their rights, they claim to favor local control and local authority, now they suddenly get local control and local authority in upstate New York, they don't like the outcome.

    There were four Republican meetings. In all four meetings, State Representative Dede Scozzafava came in first. In all four meetings, Mr. Hoffman, the independent, came in either last or certainly not in the top three. He [Hoffman] doesn't [even] live in the district...

    So I say to my many conservative friends who suddenly decided that whether they're from Minnesota or Alaska or Texas, they know more than the upstate New York Republicans? I don't think so. And I don't think it's a good precedent."//snip

    Gingrich is a great ideas guy and he distills this issue down to its very essence.

    It is simple posturing by these neophyte conservatives from MN, AK, and TX. Clearly their inexperience and self serving ways speaks for itself.

  • YEAH! Litmus tests....
    Only a career politician that needs to pander to the base will benefit from this strategy. I am not so sure how this goes to creating that big tent that includes the "sam's clubbers" the governor has so often spoken of.

    My guess is that this will create an opportunity for an Independent party to develop and that over time will evolve into a political force. On the surface, this pandering marginalizes the middle road republican. But who knows, maybe this shtick will sell. But that's not my bet.......

  • Leave a comment


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