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Posted by on Oct 23, 2009 in Politics | 19 comments

Sarah Palin Sides With Conservative Base Against Republican Party Establishment: Backs Conservative Party’s Hoffman


If you had any doubts that former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin intends to run for President in 2012 and her upcoming book wasn’t enough for you, then here’s a second sign: she has sided with the party’s conservative activist base against the Republican party establishment to endorse the conservative party’s candidate in a closely watched New York state race.

The LA Times’ Andrew Malcolm has one of the best takes on it:

Sarah Palin, who a few people may recall was the vice presidential candidate on last year’s Republican Party ticket that crashed and burned, has broken with her party in the race for a House seat from New York and endorsed the candidate of the state’s Conservative Party.

Palin announced late Thursday night that she was endorsing Doug Hoffman as, well, more conservative than the Republican Party candidate Dede Scozzafava in the race to fill New York’s 23d District.

That seat was vacated by President Obama’s appointment of Republican Rep. John McHugh as secretary of the Army. Hmmm….

Further down he puts it into perspective:

Palin’s backing of Hoffman matches the endorsement of Hoffman by former Sen. Fred Thompson and ex-Rep. Dick Armey and puts the trio in direct conflict with former GOP House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who has endorsed and helped Scozzafava, and the party’s Washington establishment.

The schism on the right creating a three-way race may well mean that Democrat Bill Owens squeaks to a victory in the normally GOP district, a House gain that probably never even crossed the minds of political strategists in the White House when they named McHugh to the Pentagon.

A good roundup on this is HERE.
It would be an interesting development indeed if future historians learned that White House political strategists anticipated the havoc this would wreak in a Republican party where it is clearly the talk radio political culture which seeks to refine, define, and prune party leadership to those who are “real” conservatives against Republicans who feel that after the 2008 election losses the party needs to try and bring in other parts of America that might not hang on Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck’s every word (or teardrop).

But the Democrats have their own problems in their own as well: many progressives are not exactly in love with centrists or moderates, either, and some don’t consider them “real” Democrats.

So the race is on to see which party gobbles itself and eats enough of its own first. And the chomping is now loudest on the Republican side. To wit:

**A poll shows the Conservative party candidate in third place. If those numbers go up, it won’t be at the expense of the Democrat:

The new Daily Kos/Research 2000 poll of the NY-23 special election finds Democratic candidate Bill Owens narrowly leading Republican Dede Scozzafava — and Doug Hoffman, the Conservative Party candidate who has excited a revolt against the GOP establishment from the whole national right wing, in third.

The numbers: Owens 35%, Scozzafava 30%, and Hoffman 23%, with a ±4% margin of error. This is consistent with last week’s Siena poll, which had Owens ahead by 33%-29%-23%.

Hoffman supporters were asked for their second choices, with only 9% saying they would back Scozzafava, 3% for Owens, 26% who wouldn’t vote, and 62% who are undecided. Even with the higher margins of error that afflict these sorts of sub-samples, that’s pretty telling.

**Owens is now the one raking in big campaign bucks:

Democratic NY-23 nominee Bill Owens is blowing away the NY-23 fundraising competition, raking in $502,197 from July 1 through Oct. 14 – more than the combined total of cash raised by his opponents, Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava and Doug Hoffman.

Owens has raised $502,197, spent $373,836 and has $125,561 worth of debt (that’s just slightly less than the $128,361 he has on hand).

Of Owens’ total, $161,050 comes from PACs. His biggest expenditures are for Murphy Putnam Media in Virginia for ads ($84,653 worth of his debt is owed to the firm).

Some interesting details in Owens’ fundraising report:

Former Plattsburg Mayor and onetime LG hopeful Clyde Rabideau ($1,510 in-kind contribution for catering and another $1,510 in-kind for postage and stationary), , PR maven Eric Mower ($1,000), $142,,742 through ACTBLUE, NYC Democratic donors Jill Braufman ($250) and Sally Minard ($500).

As has been previously reported, Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava is indeed suffering from a serious cash crunch.

In a column in The Week, Republican David Frum looks at this race, and the Governor’s races in Virginia and New Jersey and fears that no matter what happens conservatives will use it to argue that the party needs to go more to the right and not listen to those pesky moderates, centrists or conservatives who aren’t Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck fans.

He starts his piece this way:

At the beginning of the summer, most observers expected Republicans to win all three of the big elections on Nov. 3. Two weeks out, it suddenly looks very possible that Republicans will win only one: the Virginia governor’s race. The other two will be lost—not to superior Democratic organizing and messaging, but to the GOP’s own divisions.

And later he writes this:

What lessons will Republicans draw? You might think that the impending defeats in New York and New Jersey would drive home the need to broaden the Republican coalition. A candidate like Hoffman would have been the better candidate for New York’s 23rd CD; a candidate like Daggett the better candidate for suburban New Jersey. Republicans have to find ways to accommodate both types of candidates and both kinds of constituencies.

But the risk is that the party will draw a very different conclusion. From the New York experience, Republicans will be tempted to draw the lesson: Always nominate the more conservative candidate. From New Jersey: We need to drive pro-environmental fiscal moderates out of our party and into the Democratic Party where they belong!

And if the Republicans pick up an Arkansas Senate seat and a dozen blue-dog Democratic House seats in 2010, you can see this “tea party” mentality taking strong hold of the GOP in the run-up to 2012.

But a political formula that encourages Republicans to write off the suburbs, the Northeast, and California is not a formula for a national majority. It’s a formula for a more coherent, better mobilized, but perpetually minority party.

It’s always painful to lose. But defeats can be useful if they lead to wisdom. In this November’s races, however, the risk is real that Republicans will lose much—and learn nothing.

In the race to gobble up each other, right now it appears the Republicans are ahead…

UPDATE: RealClearPolitics’ Tom Bevan:

Sarah Palin jumped right in and took sides in the intraparty squabble going on in NY23, bucking the GOP establishment and endorsing conservative candidate Doug Hoffman. This fits with what we know about Palin’s style, the brand image she wants to promote, and her willingness to take political risks.

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Copyright 2009 The Moderate Voice
  • StockBoySF

    I guess Palin secretly supports the Dem candidate… Her “blessing” of a candidate is the kiss of death for that candidate.

    As far as each party wanting “purists”…. I feel that is a reactionary response done when people feel under seige.

    Candidates should belong to the party that most closely resembles their beliefs. There is no “one size fits all” in America and those polticians who believe there is (in any party) are the ones with their heads buried in the sand.

    • JeffersonDavis

      “As far as each party wanting “purists”…. I feel that is a reactionary response done when people feel under seige.”

      Very good assessment on that one, SBSF.

      But as far as “candidates belonging to the party that most closely resembles their beliefs”, that’s a bit different. Too simplistic. In many ways, the parliamentarian system in the UK has a better representation system where you vote for a candidate that specifically represents your interests, and that part forms coalitions to get their agendas addressed. The democrat’s Democrat or republican’s Republican just aren’t to be found anymore. Take, for example, me. A social conservative, fiscal moderate, conservationist, labor-supporting, democrat who believes in free market. Which party does THAT belong in?

      And that’s the problem as of late. Both parties have been overrun with special interest that has gone way past representing individuals. The system is broken, and the parties are at fault.

  • shannonlee

    I think we all know that Palin is a hard core social conservative before she is a Republican. If a new party formed with just social conservatives, she would be fighting Huckabee for its leadership.

    This is no shocker. She had very little loyalty to the Rep party…probably feels that it has turned on her.

  • DLS

    ” If a new party formed with just social conservatives, she would be fighting Huckabee for its leadership.”

    Absoutely. The “social conservatives” include the many secular ones, not just the hyped Religious Right.

    Yes, she’s in the game, though all the entrants are too early, and much attention at this time is too much, too early. Aside from the hope that the “economic conservative” or “fiscal conservative” crowd (that’s many of us standard US libertarian types, who want Washington downsized, as it ought to be) still need someone to appeal to them or the GOP will continue to be irrelevent or merely Lesser Evil Party, don’t forget that even the current star-power people (jockeying early because the field is weak, as well as the party’s doing little else of note currently) in no way would deter Jeb Bush from running in 2012.

  • JSpencer

    “She had very little loyalty to the Rep party…probably feels that it has turned on her.”I think many on the right fringe feel the same way (meaning the Armey types vs the Gingrich types) which is a rift encouraged by far-right media standard bearers… a dynamic btw that will insure the GOP continues to flounder and fragment.

    • shannonlee

      You know…this may be blasphemy…but we would be better off if we had a coalition system where mini parties created ruling coalitions. Let everyone splitter off into their own little ideological world and then let the voters decide. The two party system is a divide, conquer, and steal system.

      • JSpencer

        It’s true, the two party seems to leave much to be desired. No only is the actual representation limited, but much energy is wasted on the pendulum swinging back and forth – at the expense of forward progress. The two party system also may be more susceptible to partisan rancor and division, at least in it’s present incarnation, which isn’t to say there won’t always be some folks who enjoy lowering the level of discourse. I have a feeling we’re locked into this system for a long time to come though. IRV would probably be the easiest way to tweak it into being more responsive to the whole.

      • JeffersonDavis

        Holy crap, Shannon. I guess I wrote my semi-support of that system (parliamentarian) before I read yours. I guess we’re both blasphemers.

      • garyknowz1

        Indeed. But that would require changing our entire electoral system. Multiple viable parties are very unlikely in single member districts with plurality voting. I think an STV or IRV system would perhaps be the most equitable and easy enough for the US to transition to. Most PR or mixed systems would be asking too much. But we Americans are a stubborn bunch, so I think the two party system is here to stay.

  • JSpencer

    Another way of looking at this, if I can take the liberty of sharing a (slightly out of context ) quote by John Cole:“This is the stupidest country in the world. Bring on President Palin. We deserve her.”

    • garyknowz1

      Ouch! I don’t think I’m ready for purgatory.

  • DLS

    Shannon Lee — no, it isn’t blasphemy. This nation and its public is not homogeneous. The two major parties are not sacrosanct or part of some Natural Law. Proportional representation (link to reading is provided below) is normally sought by far-lefties to secure at least some representation of their views, but they’re not the only ones who see the value of such a thing, and the multi-party system with which it would be associated (with “multipolarity” in our system rather than a geopolitical sense, and shifting coalitions, as has been the example set by Europe, as studies on national politics include).

  • dduck12

    Is she a closet Dem. No way. She is a out of the closet pain to the entire political system.
    BTW: This article really impressed me, as I am hater of big party abusers of our democratic society.
    “Why One Democrat Thinks New York Needs a Strong GOP”

    And, I would feel the same if the GOP was the reigning party and the Dems were out.

  • redbus

    I’m wondering if we’re witnessing the rise of a viable Third Party in American politics? I know a lot of social conservatives who are disillusioned with the GOP, and many of those are also fiscal conservatives who — like DLS — would love to see the federal government rolled back. In my lifetime, I’ve seen just two “third way” candidates register on the Richter scale nationally: John Anderson (in 1980), and Ross Perot (1992). Whoever can harness the energy of the Tea Party movement may put in a better showing that either of those two. I question, however, whether it would be enough to actually win a Presidential election, but these are strange times, and unrest is afoot in the land.

  • superdestroyer

    One of the problems with Dede Scozzafava is that she had demonstrate one more than one occassion that she is incompetent. Just look at her failed press conference.

    The moderates do not want to broaden the party, they want a Democratic-lite party where conservative keep voting for them because they have no choice. Until RINO’s realize that conservative whites do not look at the Republican Party in the same way that blacks view the Democratic Party, then Republicans will be much better off.

    The establishment Republicans who hand picked Dede Scozzafava should just admit now that they made a serious mistake and should ask her to drop out of the race. She is a failure that just need to go away.

  • kritt11

    McCain, in trying to capture some of Hillary’s base, and simultaneously pick up conservative votes, created a monster. I believe that Palin thrived on the national attention and hero worship she was getting when she was a VP candidate, and so found returning to the day-to-day duties as governor rather tedious.

    She knows that one of the reasons that McCain lost was that he never had the support of the conservative base of the party.

    I heard several talk radio hosts and guests (even Coulter!) swearing that they would vote for a Democrat rather than for him. After McCain’s loss, there is no way that a moderate Repub or a paleo will get the nomination. Only a social conservative will do. It won’t be Huckabee because he is too much of a populist. Palin may be ignorant on many subjects, but she is definitely a sharp politician.

    Of course, winning the nomination isn’t the same as winning the election. She is counting on discontent with the Democrats to do the rest. Maybe Obama will be seen as the second coming of Jimmy Carter– a man who is well-intentioned but poorly suited to solve the myriad challenges of our times. IMO, Obama was set up to fail by Bush’s disastrous administration, which left the country in such a hole, that no living being could pull us out in 4 years. Many Repubs knew this in ’08, and actually wanted the Democrats to take the hit, which would set them up for a comeback in ’12, because of the short memory of the voting public.

  • superdestroyer


    Is there anything more irrelevant in the U.S than who the Republicans nominate for president in the future. Given that there is zero chance of President Obama loses, then who cares who runs for the Republicans in 2012. Anyone who want such a worthless nomination is just demonstrating how out of touch those Republicans are.

  • JeffersonDavis

    George Washington said it best conserning political parties:

    “Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party, generally. This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under different shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed; but, in those of the popular form, it is seen in its greatest rankness, and is truly their worst enemy. The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries, which result, gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty. “

  • kritt11


    Obama may be personally popular, but some of his policies are not. Voters may blame him for the slow end of the recession, high unemployment, and cuts to that sacred cow, Medicare. All the Repubs have to do is blame him for the Bush mess, and hope that the public has a short memory.

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