Posts Tagged ‘Douglas Hoffman’

Monday, June 6, 2011

Matt Doheny and the Non-Stop Campaign

Take a deep breath, folks. Now exhale.

I’m about to muse about the 2012 elections. And yes, I am fully aware that those elections aren’t happening until the next time we see an NFL team suit up and take the field (I’m already working under the assumption that there won’t be a season this fall – it helps, a little).

Watertown banker Matt Doheny made it known last week that he will run, again, for New York’s 23rd Congressional District. The seat is currently held by Democrat Bill Owens, and it’s starting to feel like Owens is defending his seat on a yearly basis.

Doheny gave Owens a run for his money last fall but fell short in the end – only a few thousand votes separated them.

Many political observers blamed Doheny’s loss on Saranac Lake accountant Doug Hoffman, who challenged him in the GOP primary and lost. Hoffman tried a third party bid on the Conservative line, but pulled out of the race weeks before the election.

Despite his decision to exit the race, more than 9,000 Hoffman supporters cast votes in his favor. It’s a crude way to do the math, but if you hand those votes to Doheny, he’s flying back and forth to Washington instead of Owens.

Doheny touts himself as a fiscal conservative, but was noticeably more moderate on social issues – perhaps explaining the lingering support for Hoffman on Election Day.

Hoffman had tea party support from the beginning, with hordes of volunteers teaming up with the Upstate New York Tea Party to pound the pavement across northern New York.

But after the primary, UNYTEA’s chairman, Mark Barie, endorsed Doheny, noting it was important to rally around one candidate. The rest of his organization was slow to follow suit, but in the end, most of the group got behind Doheny.

Following the election, there were two distinct lines up thought on the so-called “Hoffman effect.”

On one side, you had people like Jefferson County lawmaker Carolyn Fitzpatrick, a Republican:

“Matt didn’t lose this race. Doug Hoffman lost this race for the Republicans,” she said at the time. “I only wish that Doug Hoffman had come out, stood on stage and campaigned with Matt and said, ‘I support him.’ But that didn’t happen.”

On the other side, there were those who believed the Republican Party in NY-23 failed to roll out a candidate who represented the region’s conservatism. (Read more on the fallout/reaction from last year’s NY-23 race here and here).

And that GOP divide isn’t likely to go away next year.

In fact, looking at the results from a recent special election for a western New York House seat, the so-called “Hoffman effect” is alive and well in New York.

The national media reported Kathleen Hochul’s victory as a voter referendum on the GOP’s plan to turn Medicare into a voucher-style program. Hochul, a Democrat, beat out Republican Jane Corwin in a fairly conservative district.

But the national media zeroed-in on the Medicare issue – in fact, a lot of reporting failed to mention Jack Davis, the tea party candidate, who most likely pulled votes away from Corwin.

Sound familiar?

Here’s what I’m wondering: is Doheny’s early announcement an attempt to rally the GOP and keep this a two-way race? Or is it just that, an early announcement for a candidate who wants to get the ball rolling?

Your thoughts are welcome.

Meanwhile, it’s worth noting that Jude Seymour is joining the Doheny camp. Seymour wrote a great political blog for the Watertown Daily Times (All Politics is Local) and is currently wrapping up at WWNY television.

Seymour will serve as deputy campaign manager and spokesman for Doheny.

Photo: Matt Doheny (Courtesy Doheny For Congress).


Monday, October 11, 2010

Chris Morris: Election 2010 Update

Happy Monday, folks. Here’s a recap of recent political news in the Adirondack North Country — as well as a quick look ahead.

Saranac Lake accountant Doug Hoffman is, as you may have heard, out of the race for New York’s 23rd Congressional District. His decision to drop his third party run cleared the way for a two-way race between Watertown banker Matt Doheny and Democratic incumbent Bill Owens.

I don’t need to tell you that a two-way race dramatically shifts the GOP’s chances to take back a seat held by Republicans for more than a century. Politicos are predicting a close race — personally, I see Doheny gaining momentum, and fast. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Commentary: The Cast of ‘Opposing Smart Development’

Despite undeniable proof that the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) almost never denies a permit, the usual anti-APA folks are currently rallying once again for another push against the regional planning and zoning board that has kept the Adirondacks from looking like a suburb of the Northeast megalopolis for more than 30 years. It’s time for those who support reasonable and responsible development in the Adirondack Park to step forward and let their voice be heard.

In case you went to the lobby during intermission, here’s a review of the cast of leading characters:

Maynard Baker: Despite his failed leadership that left Warrensburg perhaps the most poorly developed village in the Park – a virtual wreck of its former self – Maynard Baker persists in his angry denunciations of anything even approaching planning, zoning and smart development. Baker is the scariest of the cast, having once started a fistfight during the Battle of Crane Pond. His latest approach has been lawsuits, and threats of lawsuits. Most recently he is attempting to argue in court that veterans cannot access the Park. On Monday, Baker called the APA “terrorists” securing for all time that this guy is a dangerous demagogue.

Will Doolittle: Despite serious questions about his motives with regards to his reporting about the APA (detailed here, here, and here), Will Doolittle has started another campaign in the pages of the Glens Falls Post Star. That’s the same Post Star that called for the abolition of the APA in an editorial during Doolittle’s last round of APA attacks. You’d think that when your motives are questioned so seriously regarding your reporting of a particular subject, you’d leave those stories to someone else. Not Doolittle, apparently he and his bosses think it’s entirely appropriate to continue to put an anti-APA reporter on the job to cover the APA.

Kim Smith Dedam: One of only two women in the cast (Carol LaGrasse and her one-woman Property Rights Foundation of America is the other), Kim Smith Dedam is the Plattsburgh Press Republican‘s answer to accurate and judicious reporting of the APA and smart development in the Adirondacks. Her outright false claims, apparently designed to foster her agenda, are awful legend. Kim Smith Dedam can always be counted on to tell the story of development in the Adirondacks to the benefit of her handlers. Check out two stories that read like press releases: “Tupper Lake project projected to create 584 jobs” and “Veterans sue for seaplane access to Adirondack lakes.” Floatplane ban supporters? Kim Smith Dedam doesn’t think they’re necessary in a story about the ban on floatplanes, but that’s just one in what seems an unending litany of slanted stories about development issues in the Adirondacks.

Fred Monroe: When it comes to one-man bands, Fred Monroe plays the loudest. Overseeing the demise and awful strip development of Chestertown as the Supervisor of the Town Chester is not enough for Monroe, so he also collects a paycheck as the Chair of the economically challenged Warren County Board of Supervisors and a paycheck from bankrupt New York State as the voice of the anti-APA Local Government Review Board. That’s right, Monroe is paid by the Town, County, and State government – after a raise he gave himself last year, that’s more than $100,000 in taxpayer-funded salary. It’s no wonder that while he’s content to serve as a mouth-piece around the state for anti-APA activities and as the go-to guy for his media buddies, he came out last year to say that no, he doesn’t want the APA dissolved. And why would he? He’d be out of a job heading a one man (and one wife) tax supported board whose main focus has been to fight another tax funded board. That is the goose that laid the $100,000 egg.

Supporting Characters: The main characters are only part of an ensemble that includes such classic character actors as Don “Invasive Species Are A Bunch Of Bull” Lehman, the editors of Denton “You Can Count On Us” Publications, Betty “Blacklist” Little, Teresa “It’s US Versus Them” Sayward, and newly added to the cast, Doug “When I Get To Congress, I’ll Fight The APA” Hoffman.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Chris Morris: Election 2010 Primary Recap

The primary elections are in the books and it was a wild ride, indeed.

Carl Paladino shocked pundits — and the Republican establishment — by thumping former Long Island Congressman Rick Lazio in the GOP gubernatorial primary. It wasn’t even close.

I spent primary night at the Red Fox in Saranac Lake, where GOP congressional hopeful Doug Hoffman’s campaign team was set up. I was glued to the returns and shocked to see Paladino put up such big numbers. But Lazio’s death knell came when Ralph Lorigo, his opponent in the Conservative primary, actually took a slim lead for a few minutes.

Paladino has little time to celebrate. Andrew Cuomo is a much more formidable and better-financed opponent.

Paladino’s resounding victory makes Doug Hoffman’s failure to gain victory over Matt Doheny that much more interesting, though.

The tea party express made a strong showing last night. In Delaware, Christine O’Donnell handed Congressman Mike Castle a stunning defeat. The tea party could pick up another big win in New Hampshire, too.

So where was the support for Hoffman last night?

I spoke with Hoffman early in the evening, pointing out that tea party candidates were making a strong showing. He told me that gave him confidence.

Not so much. Not only does it look like Hoffman might lose, the voter turnout was shaky at best.

Throughout his campaign, Hoffman took pride in his get-out-the-vote ability based on last year’s special election. The total number of votes for both candidates — about 31,000 — represents less than half of the total votes tallied for Hoffman last November.

Strange stuff, considering the great interest in this election exhibited by voters in the 23rd.

That brings me to the Upstate New York Tea Party, the group that has backed Hoffman throughout the campaign. The talk among news junkies this morning is a press release issued by UNYTEA Chairman Mark Barie. He says Republicans and Conservatives can’t waste time with lengthy recounts.

“There are less than seven weeks until the November election, and we intend to use that time to reorganize and to make the case to voters that Bill Owens has got to go,” Barie said.

“Doug would have to take about two thirds of the absentee ballots in order to win. I think that’s unlikely, but we can not afford to sit idly by while the recount takes place,” he added.

He also made some strong remarks about Hoffman’s campaign:

“I am very disappointed with the way in which the Hoffman campaign was conducted. It was unorganized, it lacked focus, and it failed to take advantage of Doug’s tremendous popularity. Doug’s senior campaign adviser, Chris Baker, ran this campaign from his office in Arizona and he was clearly ignorant of what was happening on the ground here in the North Country,” he said.

“Speaking just for myself, if Doug doesn’t make some personnel changes, his campaign for Congress is going no where. I think his chances for success on the Conservative Party line are minimal. This is true because, unlike last year when he came so close to defeating Bill Owens, this year’s GOP nominee is not a tax and spend liberal. Matt Doheny is a fiscal conservative.”

Barie stopped short of formally endorsing Doheny, however.

I’ll keep you posted with any updates. News outlets are currently waiting (somewhat impatiently) for Hoffman’s team to make an announcement on whether he is conceding or staying in the race as the Conservative candidate.


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Chris Morris: Election 2010 Update

Hey all — just checking in with a quick update on the 2010 primary and general elections.

John Warren and some of his colleagues here at the Adirondack Almanack have long lamented the mainstream medias’ disdain for covering third party candidates (I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve been more than guilty of this myself). [See John Warren, Brian Farenell]

I’ve put a more sincere focus on those third party candidates in my coverage of this year’s elections, and I wanted to share an interesting article published Sept. 8.

The Associated Press reports that at least two third parties are in danger of losing their future spots on the ballot. The Working Families Party and the state’s Conservative Party need to carry the names of two gubernatorial candidates on Nov. 2 if they wish to retain their ballot positions without going through future petitioning.

New York State Attorney General and Democratic candidate for governor Andrew Cuomo has been courted by the WFP for some time. But Cuomo has been hesitant — if not outright opposed — to accepting their nomination and appearing on their party’s line.

In June, a Cuomo spokesman said an ongoing federal investigation into the WFP had to be cleared up before the candidate would jump on board.

Now, Cuomo says the party needs to accept his agenda before he welcomes their endorsement.

Another third party is also crossing its fingers ahead of next week’s GOP primary.

Rick Lazio says party unity is key if the Republicans are to beat Cuomo in November (a long shot no matter who wins the primary). According to political experts, that could mean Lazio will abandon his spot on the Conservative Party line if he loses to Buffalo businessman Carl Paladino.

Yesterday’s AP report notes that minor parties need at least 50,000 votes on their respective lines to secure future ballots.

On another note, I firmly believe third parties are going to gain momentum rapidly in the coming years.

The tea party movement — which is exactly that, a movement — could potentially see the establishment of an actual “Tea Party” line on the ballot. Paladino has already created the Taxpayer Party in New York (which, technically, would include everyone who pays taxes regardless of political beliefs).

And how long before we see a similar split in the Democratic Party? The Blue Dog Caucus, which consists of moderate and conservative Democrats, has been picking up steam in recent years. It’s only a matter of time before Dems like Congressman Scott Murphy decide that it’s no longer politically expedient to be attached to their more liberal counterparts.

Finally, a few quick links to check out:

North Country Public Radio Adirondack Bureau Chief Brian Mann has been a blogging animal as of late. Here’s a few choice cuts: Republicans need to get specific on abortion; the GOP as the party of no sacrifices; and my personal favorite, Scott Murphy is not a kitten killer.

Adirondack Daily Enterprise Staff Writer Nathan Brown blogged on Doug Hoffman’s FEC fine.

Jude Seymour of the Watertown Daily Times is rolling out some talking points.

And some shameless self promotion:

Jon Alexander blogged on Hoffman’s primary strategy, wondering whether it is childish or brilliant. I commented on Scott Murphy’s recent Lake Placid visit — and a few people seemed to think I was endorsing him. I was absolutely not, for the record.

Finally, if you missed Tuesday night’s debate between Doug Hoffman and Matt Doheny, you can listen to it here.


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

2010 Elections: Statewide Third Parties, 23rd CD Update

I’ve got a few quick notes to pass along today.

For starters, I hope readers will take a look at some of the third party candidates running for state and federal office this fall.

Libertarian candidate Warren Redlich and Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins both submitted the mandatory minimum of 15,000 signatures to appear on the ballot in November.

As governor, Redlich says he’d stop wasting money and cut spending. He’d also cap bureaucrat’s salaries at $100,000.

Meanwhile, Hawkins is espousing the merits of a living wage for all New Yorkers. He also wants to see a greater investment in renewable energy and a ban on proposed hydrofracking as it relates to natural gas drilling.

Also running on the Libertarian line this fall is Manhattan attorney Carl Person. He’ll challenge a crowded slate of candidates angling for the attorney general’s seat.

Randy Credico and John Clifton have been tapped by the Libertarians to challenge U.S. Senate incumbents Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand. Both men oppose drug prohibition and support open immigration.

The Green Party has a couple candidates running in those senate races, too. Colia Clark will take on Schumer and Cecile Lawrence will run against Gillibrand.

Meanwhile, in New York’s 23rd Congressional District, Saranac Lake accountant Doug Hoffman picked up an endorsement from the National Defense Political Action Committee.

Here’s Hoffman’s response to the endorsement:

“As a veteran myself, who trained at Fort Drum, I understand our nations need to be eternally vigilant in this age of global terror,” he said. “On land, sea, and in the air, our troops must be the best equipped and most professionally trained fighting force in the world. We owe this to those who serve and to those they protect. As a Congressman I will stand shoulder to shoulder with the National Defense PAC as we work to achieve these goals for our nation, our military, our veterans and their families.”

Also, Matt Doheny was on the campaign trail all weekend long. Check out Jude Seymour’s coverage here.

Finally, the chairman of the Upstate New York Tea Party is expecting a large turnout for the Sept. 1 debate in Plattsburgh.


Monday, August 23, 2010

Chris Morris: Election Update 2010

It’s been too long since I’ve posted on the upcoming primary and general elections, so let’s dive right in.

First off, we’ve got some debates in New York’s 23rd Congressional District. In fact, I’ll be moderating one of them, right here in Saranac Lake.

Matt Doheny and Doug Hoffman will square off in a primary debate at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 7 at the Harrietstown Town Hall in Saranac Lake. It’s being sponsored by the WNBZ news department and the Adirondack Daily Enterprise.

A three-person media panel will ask the questions – that panel features Brian Mann of North Country Public Radio, Peter Crowley of the Adirondack Daily Enterprise, and Matt Bosley of Denton Publications. Panelists will draft questions, and we’re encouraging the public to submit questions, too.

Voters need debates. It offers folks a first-hand look at the candidates, free of canned press statements and air-brushed advertising. That’s why our questions are being kept secret until the night of the debate – we want to see how the candidates react to questions off the cuff (although I’m not implying that we’ll be asking screwball questions).

The Upstate New York Tea Party (UNYTEA) is also sponsoring a debate in Plattsburgh. Speaking of UNYTEA, the group recently reached the 1,000 member milestone.

In other 23rd CD news, I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing both incumbent Congressman Bill Owens and Doheny on North Country Today. You can listen to those interviews here. I’ll be interviewing Hoffman Sept. 2.

One of Hoffman’s major criticisms of Doheny is the Watertown business man’s ties to Wall Street – I had a chance to ask Doheny about those criticisms directly. Here’s what he told me: “I don’t think there are concerns at all,” he said. “Unfortunately, my opponent is sort of grasping at straws.”

“The reality is twofold,” he added. “Number one: I’ve invested my time in turning around troubled companies. And number two: I’ve been related to finance for my entire career, but I’ve never worked with an institution that took a bailout from the feds.”

Doheny says he shouldn’t be criticized for his personal success. “My opponent shouldn’t be critical of someone who has followed their own American dream,” he said. “I’m proud of my success. I’m proud of Mr. Hoffman’s successes. I’m proud that Mr. Owens has found success.”

Meanwhile, Hoffman is espousing the merits of Arizona’s controversial immigration law; you can watch his new ad here.

Casey Sieler of the Times Union picked apart Hoffman’s ad in a blog post at Capitol Confidential.

In New York’s 20th Congressional District, Democratic Representative and incumbent Scott Murphy is hitting the airwaves with some new ads, and challenger Chris Gibson got some help from an influential Republican.

Finally, a quick look at the gubernatorial election, or, “the one that Cuomo is going to win come November.”

Joking aside, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s lead in the polls looks pretty insurmountable at this point. But as I’ve said before, at least we’ve got Carl Paladino to keep things interesting.

In July, the Buffalo businessman introduced Mario Jr. – a campaign volunteer dressed as a duck, assigned to follow Cuomo around to all of his events.

Now, Paladino is rolling out Little Ricky – a volunteer dressed as a giant chicken. And as the name implies, this one’s job is to follow around former Long Island Congressman Rick Lazio.

Yeah, I know, these are just gimmicks and really don’t offer anything to voters looking for a meaningful dialogue – especially since Mario Jr. refused to take any of Jon Alexander’s questions outside a Cuomo campaign event in Saranac Lake (the response from the duck’s handler was, “he doesn’t talk, he’s a freaking duck”).

Paladino’s shtick might be working, however. He’s gaining ground on Lazio.

That’s it for now. I’ve got elections AND football coming up. I love autumn.

By the way, send your questions for the Hoffman/Doheny debate to news@wnbz.com – or pass them along to John Warren here at the Adirondack Almanack and he’ll forward them to me.


Friday, August 13, 2010

Doheny, Hoffman to Debate; Questions Sought

The two candidates seeking the Republican line in this fall’s 23rd Congressional District election will square off in a debate ahead of their September 14th primary.

WNBZ radio and the Adirondack Daily Enterprise are teaming up to host a debate between Doug Hoffman and Matt Doheny. The debate is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 7 at the Harrietstown Town Hall in Saranac Lake.

This is expected to be the second debate featuring Doheny and Hoffman; another will be hosted by the Upstate New York Tea Party on Sept. 1 in Plattsburgh.

Questions for the Saranac Lake debate will come from a panel of North Country journalists. The public is invited to submit questions to these panelists for consideration.

“In order to provide a fair and balanced debate setting, all questions will be kept secret prior to the evening of the debate,” said Chris Morris, news director at WNBZ and a regular contributor on politics here at Adirondack Almanack.

“We’re also welcoming questions from the voting public,” he said. “However, questions should be formulated so they can be directed to both candidates; questions aimed at one particular candidate will not be considered.”

Panelists and moderators for the evening so far include Morris, Brian Mann of North Country Public Radio, Peter Crowley of the Adirondack Daily Enterprise, and Matt Bosley of Denton Publications. Panelists and moderators are subject to change.

Each candidate will be allotted two-and-a-half minutes to answer each question, with 30 seconds for rebuttals.

Both candidates have indicated they will be available following the debate for a brief meet-and-greet session.

Voter questions should be submitted to panelists no later than 5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 3 to any of the following journalists: Chris Morris at news@wnbz.com, Brian Mann at brian@ncpr.org, Matt Bosley at matt@denpubs.com or Peter Crowley at pcrowley@adirondackdailyenterprise.com.


Monday, July 5, 2010

Doheny to Hoffman: “Let’s debate”

It looks like Matt Doheny is ready for action.

The Watertown businessman and Republican candidate in this fall’s 23rd Congressional District election wants to debate Doug Hoffman before the September 14 primary.

Doheny doesn’t want one debate, either – he wants 11, one for each county in the district.

“This is a critical election year,” Doheny wrote in a letter sent to Hoffman. “Republicans, indeed all the people in the North Country, the Adirondack region and central New York deserve to hear from both of us as we discuss and debate the issues, so they can make the best decision on Election Day.”

Doheny has locked-up endorsements from nine out of the 11 county GOP committees; the remaining two have opted to not endorse a candidate.

Hoffman has Conservative Party support and is being backed by the Upstate New York Tea Party (UNYTEA).

Both men are gunning for the seat currently held by Congressman Bill Owens, a Democrat from Plattsburgh.

Hoffman’s spokesman, Rob Ryan, said the candidate welcomes the opportunity to debate Matt Doheny.

“It will be interesting to discuss job creation in the North Country, cutting waste and the size of federal government in Washington and Mr. Doheny’s strong support of his liberal friend, Dede Scozzafava, in last November’s election,” he said.

Illustration: Doug Hoffman’s concession speech last November by Almanack contributor Mark Wilson.


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Election Day Sketchpad 7: Hoffman Concedes

Doug Hoffman conceded at 12:10 a.m., thanking “every single person out there who joined my team and fought for America. This was the biggest hill I’ve ever faced, and I’m a 46er, so I’ve faced plenty of them.”

The crowd at the Hotel Saranac had thinned but was enthusiastic, especially when the Conservative talked about an unlikely campaign that grew into a phenomenon. They cheered lines like, “We have to remember that a government that serves us everything takes away our freedoms.”

“We gotta fight back!’” members of the audience yelled. And they might, in a year, but Hoffman did not get into that tonight.

Hoffman said he called to congratulate Congressman Elect Bill Owens, who will be the first non-Republican to represent the district since the 1850s, and offered to help him to bring jobs to the area. “Let’s work with him together, but let’s make sure we get the message out there: we can’t spend money we don’t have.”

He closed with, “You don’t have to be polished, you don’t have to be poised, you don’t have to be a rock star to be a politician, so let’s all step up to the plate.”


Sunday, November 1, 2009

23rd CD Web Watch: Friend for a Day

Over the course of an eventful weekend in New York’s 23rd CD, Lake Placid resident and congressional aspirant Douglas Hoffman showed the flexibility of a skilled politician in declaring two significantly disparate feelings for his former Republican rival. On Saturday, Hoffman’s website displayed a heartfelt tribute to Dede Scozzafava.
Sunday brought a new week, a new month, a new clock setting, and a new emotion from the Conservative Party Candidate (click right image to enlarge)


Sunday, November 1, 2009

23rd CD: Scozzafava Endorses Democrat Bill Owens

In a last minute move Republican Candidate Dede Scozzafava, who only yesterday withdrew from Tuesday’s election for the 23rd Congressional District, has announced that she is throwing her support to her Democratic opponent, Bill Owens. Scozzafava withdrew after garnering only 20 percent in the latest poll—she has said that she does not have the money to wage the all-out media effort required to close the gap. In endorsing Owens over Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman, Scozzafava cited the Democrat’s independence.

“I have been always been an independent voice for the people I represent,” Scozzafava wrote to her supporters today. “I have stood for our honest principles, and a truthful discussion of the issues, even when it cost me personally and politically. Since beginning my campaign, I have told you that this election is not about me; it’s about the people of this District. It is in this spirit that I am writing to let you know I am supporting Bill Owens for Congress and urge you to do the same.”

Following Scozzafava’s withdrawal on Saturday the National Republican Congressional Committee, who had backed Scozzafava, announced that it would put it’s full efforts behind Doug Hoffman.


Sunday, November 1, 2009

Analysis: October Surprise in the 23rd Congressional District Race

On Saturday, when Dede Scozzafava’s campaign bus turned into a pumpkin, it came as a shock but not a surprise to North Country political observers. The unpredictable five-month, three-party campaign to fill the vacated House seat of Army Secretary John McHugh was elevated in its early stages to a war of surrogates for political forces both at the state and national levels, according to a close observer of New York GOP politics.

The source—speaking on background—said Scozzafava’s attempts to court organized labor (specifically her support for the Employees’ Free Choice Act) was responsible more than any other issue for attracting the political action committee Club for Growth to the campaign of Conservative Party candidate Douglas Hoffman. The money and advertisements that followed “put Dede in a position where she never had a chance to define herself.”

Former Democratic Rural Conference Chairman Stuart Brody, who lost a bid to become his party’s nominee in this election, agrees that outside attention and campaign contributions had a distorting effect on the race: “Money often obscures the message.”

While the National Republican Congressional Committee (which took charge of the Scozzafava campaign in September) was framing the contest as a referendum on Democratic policies and leadership in Washington, and the conservative media were building the Hoffman campaign into a referendum on both Democrats and centrist Republicans, New York State Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long was using the insurgent Hoffman campaign to bend the State GOP ideologically to the right. “Mike Long feels he has something to prove,” according to the Republican Party observer.

And if Thursday’s defection to Hoffman’s camp of former Governor George Pataki notched a victory for the Conservative Party leader, Stuart Brody believes that “what Mike Long thinks means nothing. . . . Ultimately, the North Country is moderate. Folks think for themselves.”

Asked how he sees Scozzafava’s withdrawal effecting Tuesday’s result, Brody departs from the conventional wisdom that Hoffman will benefit. In step with his faith in the independent mindset of the North Country electorate, he feels that a portion of Scozzafava supporters, particularly those driven by organized labor interests, will find their way to Democrat Bill Owens.

Our Republican Party observer points out that it may be too late for the move to produce a large-scale change, citing the layout of the ballots on which Bill Owens holds line A, followed by Scozzafava on lines B and C, followed by Doug Hoffman on line D.

As for Wednesday, the lack of a Republican candidate does not guarantee any less intense an effort to impound and count and recount the ballots. With so much at stake from every angle, a close outcome at the polls will assuredly give way to a recount phase as long as (and exceeding the cost of) the campaign itself. Ask any of your next door neighbors of NY-20.

And the day after a victor finally emerges? The seat will be up for grabs again in less than a year; a mid-term election is already well under way in most districts. Former candidate Stuart Brody anticipates that a Democratic winner will be immediately challenged by Republicans. In the event of a Hoffman victory, Brody expects that a number of Democrats will step forward to challenge the Conservative—a number which may include himself.


Saturday, October 31, 2009

23rd CD: Dede Scozzafava Drops Out of the Race

In a move that has the potential to shift the outcome of the coming election for the 23rd Congressional District spot once held by fellow Republican John McHugh, Dede Scozzafava has announced that she has suspended her campaign. Scozzafava, a state assemblywoman, has not yet given her support to either of her opponents, Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman, or Democrat Bill Owens. A Siena poll released today has Owens at 36 percent of likely voters, Hoffman at 35 percent, and Scozzafava at 20 percent.

“In recent days, polls have indicated that my chances of winning this election are not as strong as we would like them to be. The reality that I’ve come to accept is that in today’s political arena, you must be able to back up your message with money,” Scozzafava wrote in a statement to supporters.


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Analysis: The Inevitable Halloween/Election Day Cartoon

Say you’re a cartoonist, and you own a bar at the intersection of October and November. And once a year at this season two patrons—Halloween and Election Day—walk in and sit down just a couple barstools apart. They never really talk. They just show up, year in and year out. Despite their vast differences in age, temperament, cultural tradition, and costume, you will inevitably come to the conclusion that these misfits were destined to be together. And for the rest of your career you will devote one day a year to drawing a cartoon that somehow marries the two. Some of these cartoons work out better than others.

This may be a promising year if your bar is located in New York’s 23rd congressional district. Few house races in memory can match this year’s special election for Halloween parallels. Consider the following features:

• A Democratic candidate who looked a lot more like a Republican before he put on the traditional donkey costume;
• A Republican candidate who looks like a liberal to moderates, and looks like an Elvis impersonator to conservatives;
• A Conservative candidate with a devilish grin;

Throw in a candidate endorsement from former House Majority Leader Dick Armey in a cowboy hat and candidate bodies which mysteriously disappear the day of scheduled debates, and you have good raw material for a frightful cartoon.

Of course, if it doesn’t work out, there’s always next year.