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Pawlenty endorses third-party-ite over Republican in congressional race

Gov. Pawlenty has endorsed the candidate of New York’s Conservative Party over the moderate Republican nominee in an upstate New York special election. Sarah Palin did the same thing a few days earlier. The Pawlenty move is being interpreted as an effort to court the Republican right for presidential campaign purposes.

A special election will be held Nov. 3 in the upstate New York District 23 to replace incumbent Republican Rep. John McHugh who resigned to become secretary of the U.S. Army. New York is one of last remaining bastions of moderate Republicanism.

Dems nominated businessman and attorney Bill Owens. Republican State Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava, a moderate who has not embraced the no-new-taxes position, had supported the union position on the Employee Free Choice Act and has voted in favor of gay marriage, won the nomination over businessman and accountant Doug Hoffman, who is a much more down-the-line conservative. She is also the nominee of the New York Independence Party.

Hoffman then won the nomination of New York’s Conservative Party. (New York has a lot of parties. Democrat Owens is also the endorsee of the Working Families Party.)

Pawlenty, Palin, Gingrich, Bachmann
Because of Scozzafava’s positions, many Republicans have refused to get behind her candidacy. On her Facebook page last Thursday, Palin became the first of the possible 2012 Repub candidates for president to endorse Hoffman, with a statement indicating that conservative principles were more important than party unity.

Newt Gingrich, another possible 2012 contender, has stuck with Scozzafava, on party unity grounds without embracing her aspostate views, especially noting that Hoffman had sought and failed to get the Repub endorsement. He warned that if Repubs don’t get behind their own nominees just because they don’t agree with the party on every issues it will “guarantee” Pres. Obama’s reelection and Nancy Pelosi will become “speaker for life.”

Yesterday, in a statement released to the pro-Repub website, Pawlenty came out for Hoffman, saying:

“We cannot send more politicians to Washington who wear the Republican jersey on the campaign trail, but then vote like Democrats in Congress on issues like card check and taxes. After reviewing the candidates’ positions, I’m endorsing Doug Hoffman in New York’s special election. Doug understands the federal government needs to quit spending so much, will vote against tax increases, and protect key values like the right to vote in private in union elections.”

Michele Bachmann has also endorsed Hoffman, although interestingly, and differently than the others, did so on electability grounds. On the Laura Ingraham radio show, Bachmann said that Scozzafava’s candidacy was collapsing and endorsing the non-Republican was the only hope for keeping the seat in the Republican column. (Talking Points Memo noted that as of the time of Bachmann’s statement, the latest public polls showed Hoffman running third (although a very strong third). But Bachmann may have had a point. All the insiders seem to believe that recent party polls show Hoffman surging past Scozzafava.)

Chris Cillizza of The Fix on seemed to have the same information, citing a new Club for Growth poll that had Hoffman in the lead: (Cillizza: “Polling and conversations with those close to the contest on both sides suggest it is now a two-person race between Hoffman and Democrat Bill Owens with Scozzafava fading badly.)

Cillizza also weighed in on Pawlenty’s possible motives:

“Conservatives dominate the nominating process (as liberals do on the Democratic side) and these are the sort of moments that a relative unknown like Pawlenty will use over the next 18 months to convince voters in places like Iowa and New Hampshire that he is one of them.”

What think?

Comments (9)

  1. Submitted by Mike Ring on 10/27/2009 - 11:18 am.

    Nate Silver takes a look at the Club for Growth poll here, and basically concludes that it might be right, but there are a whole lot of “yellow flags” that might raise some doubt about the reliability of the poll. Starting with the fact that the Club for Growth has endorsed Hoffman and threw $300k into the race.

  2. Submitted by Howard Miller on 10/27/2009 - 01:16 pm.

    Mr. Pawlenty may have to run as a conservative’s conservative to win the national Republican nomination for president in today’s Republican party …. but that same ideological profile will prevent him from winning in the national election.

    In spite of claims by conservatives that they are the mainstream of America, they’re not. And with only 20% of voters self-identifying as Republicans, the Republican nominee needs to attract independents to have a chance. Even if Mr. Obama stumbles in his first term, i can’t imagine enough independents flocking to the conservative profile that Mr. Pawlenty has constructed for himself in public comments lately.

  3. Submitted by Peder DeFor on 10/27/2009 - 02:05 pm.

    I think that Pawlenty is making a bet that economic issues are going to be the biggies in 2012. True, there are differences in social policy between Hoffman and Scozzafava but it’s the economic ones that are being stressed. It’s not clear at all that a gay marriage supporting/small gov’t Republican would have this kind of trouble.

  4. Submitted by Richard Schulze on 10/27/2009 - 02:50 pm.

    When one lacks both celebrity and money. Free headlines are the ticket for this campaign.

  5. Submitted by Peder DeFor on 10/27/2009 - 03:48 pm.

    Howard, interesting 40% of Americans describe themselves as conservatives, something like twice as many as self described liberals. Even if self described Republicans are at a low point, I think it’s much too early to see Obama as a shoo in for a second term.
    This particular election is kind of a case in point. Even though there is a Republican candidate in the race, the leader seems to be the most conservative of the choices (and yes, I’m skeptical of the poll too). This suggests that Dems don’t have some kind of hammerlock on the future.

  6. Submitted by Richard Schulze on 10/27/2009 - 09:56 pm.

    I believe that Newt Gingrich says it best…

    snip//”I just find it fascinating that my many friends who claim to be against Washington having too much power, they claim to be in favor of the 10th Amendment giving states back their rights, they claim to favor local control and local authority, now they suddenly get local control and local authority in upstate New York, they don’t like the outcome.

    There were four Republican meetings. In all four meetings, State Representative Dede Scozzafava came in first. In all four meetings, Mr. Hoffman, the independent, came in either last or certainly not in the top three. He doesn’t live in the district…

    So I say to my many conservative friends who suddenly decided that whether they’re from Minnesota or Alaska or Texas, they know more than the upstate New York Republicans? I don’t think so. And I don’t think it’s a good precedent.”//snip

    Gingrich is a great ideas guy and he distills this issue to its very essence.

  7. Submitted by Peder DeFor on 10/28/2009 - 06:15 am.

    Richard, did you support the largely non-CT drive to have Lieberman replaced a few years back? Did you think there was a principled problem with all of the outside money and enthusiasm that was brought into CT? I respect Gingrich but I think he’s off base here.

  8. Submitted by John E Iacono on 10/28/2009 - 04:20 pm.

    What about this possibility?

    Pawlenty is backing this candidate because he believes the man thinks as he does.

    Pawlenty has pretty much always said what he thinks, regardless of the consequences. And his opponents have ALWAYS made the mistake of thinking he was a lying scheming politician like themselves.

    Pawlenty is a skilful politician, no mistake. He is not a normal politician, howeever, and when he takes a stand I listen to what he says, not to what his enemies try to make of it. It has worked pretty well for me up until now.

  9. Submitted by Richard Schulze on 10/28/2009 - 05:09 pm.

    @ Pete I think that Gingrich brings up the hypocrisy and the irony of these politicians. It’s almost like cannibalizing your own.

    I really have no stake in CT other than family who reside there and they in fact like Senator Lieberman.

    I have to wonder how this helps to grow the big tent that our governor has said he would like to see be more expansive with the Sam’s clubbers and all…

    To me it sounds more like a litmus test.

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