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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

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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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