Wednesday, November 4, 2009

As right wing smashes "RINO" in NY-23, the Democrat wins! But another GOPer. Rob Astorino wins more a big race without right-wing help

Big Conservative loser, Doug Hoffman

Big Republican winner, Rob Astorino

Of course, the big stories of election night, 2009, are the Republican victories in Virginia, where Barack Obama's 2008 win had set up high expectations of that traditionally "red" state turning "blue," and in New Jersey, often regarded as among the deepest of the "blue." (Looks like purple is getting to be an even more popular color!)

In some ways, though, the most fascinating outcome of the night was in the special election to fill an historically Republican House seat in upstate New York's 23rd Congressional District. There, Doug Hoffman, a conservative candidate running on the Conservative Party line after failing to get the GOP nomination, ran a tough campaign against the Republican nominee, Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava. Hoffman drew an outpouring of support from conservatives around the nation who regarded Scozzafava's nomination as an abomination, due to her having taken a wide range of moderate and even liberal positions. Hoffman was endorsed by Sarah Palin, Fred Thompson, Tim Pawlenty and a veritable who's who of the conservative movement. And he appeared so many times in recent days on Sean Hannity's and Glenn Beck's TV programs that it was a wonder he had any time to campaign in the district!

Hoffman did succeed in driving Scozzafava out of the race. She withdrew last weekend and then threw her support to Democrat Bill Owens. Conservative pundits, bloggers and "tea party" activists, along with Hannity, Beck and other on-air personalities, all whooped it up about this big victory over the detested "RINO," Scozzafava. On the eve of the election, the righties were throwing down the gauntlet to moderate Republicans everywhere, threatening a dozen or more challenges next year, based on their great success in NY-23.

Only one problem with that. Hoffman lost, and the Democrat, Bill Owens, won! It's hard to see that the whole Hoffman phenomenon amounts to anything more than a right-wing hissy fit that winds proving the contention of level-headed Republican leaders that their party needs to welcome folks into a "big tent" or risk losing more elections to Democrats. Not incidentally, Owens was chosen as a moderate Democrat who would reflect the mood and views of voters in a district that has been reliably Republican for a century but not necessarily all that conservative. Good call by the Democrats.

Meanwhile, in downstate Westchester County (population, about one million) -- running a race for County Executive that received virtually no media attention -- Rob Astorino, host of a Catholic radio show and a sometime politician, beat a three-term incumbent Democrat by a whopping 58-42 margin, despite the county's huge, two-to-one Democratic advantage in registration and its recent history of delivering big victory margins to Democrats.

Unlike Hoffman, Astorino did not have big national Republican and conservative names endorsing and campaigning for him: no Sarah Palin, no Fred Thompson, no Sean Hannity, no Glenn Beck. Astorino also had no upsurge of excitement in the right-wing blogosphere and no deluge of outside campaign contributions. Astorino's campaign also had basically one message: taxes in Westchester County are too high, and it's the long-time Democratic County Executive's fault.

So there was Hoffman moaning and groaning on Fox News about the nation going to hell in a basket due to those tax and spend liberal Democrats and their me-too RINO chums like Dede, supposedly to inspire the GOP "base" to new heights of enthusiasm and voting in a heavily Republican district. He lost. Meanwhile, Astorino ran a conventional campaign and delivered a simple, low-key message that resonated with voters in an overwhelmingly Democratic county. He won big.

I wonder which approach makes more sense?

What are your thoughts about Election 2009? Post a comment.

UPDATE: In New York City's other big suburb, Nassau County, the Republican challenger to the Democratic incumbent County Executive appears to have lost by only 237 votes. No word on any recount yet, but such a tiny margin is bound to be challenged.

1 comment:

  1. Agreed. Astorino's victory in Westchester was something no one even expected. A true taxpayers revolt.