One of the interesting races for 2009 is a special election for the 23rd Congressional District of New York. That is because of the presence and surprising strength of Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman, a CPA who entered the race as an afterthought.
According to a new Siena College Poll, the race is as follows, Bill Owens, Democrat, at 33 percent, Dede Scozzafava, Republican at 29 percent, and Doug Hoffman at 23 percent. The trends, though, have given a lot of people some pause. Owens has risen by 5 points since the previous poll, Scozzafava has fallen by five points and Hoffman has surged ahead by seven points.
While the 23rd New York is nominally a Republican district, conventional wisdom is that a strong third party candidate splits the Republican vote, giving Owens the edge. On the other hand, Hoffman supporters suggest that the real split is conservative/liberal, with liberal Republican Scozzafava splitting the vote with liberal Democrat Owens.
Scozzafava has taken several positions that Republicans and conservatives have found off putting. She was for tax increases before she was against them. She also supported the stimulus bill and card check. Some have wondered why Scozzafava is even a Republican, she has taken so many liberal positions.
Scozzafava has had trouble raising money, possibly because of her liberal positions. Doug Hoffman is well financed by the Club for Growth and other conservative organizations. Hoffman has also been endorsed by Fred Thompson, Dick Armey, and Gary Bauer. Bill Owen recently got an infusion of cash from a Barack Obama headlined fund raiser.
Finally, Scozzafava had a well publicized tiff with a Weekly Standard reporter which ended with someone in the Scozzafava Campaign calling the cops on him. Apparently the reporter was a little too aggressive in asking questions for the comfort level of the candidate.
If Scozzafava continues to fade and Doug Hoffman continues to surge, then the race for the New York 23rd develops into an interesting liberal vs. conservative race with clearly defined differences. If Doug Hoffman pulls out a win, as some are suspecting he might, it would prove not only a sharp repudiation of President Obama, but of institutional Republicans, including Newt Gingrich, who have taken the tack that conservatives simply cannot win in the North East, even in a Republican district.
Of course the outcome of the race may not matter that much. The campaign for New York 23 will begin anew in 2010, along with every other Congressional district, in a year that promises to be an Earth shaking one, election-wise.
Source NY-23 Can Doug Hoffman Win?, Chris Cillizza, Washington Post, October 20th, 2009