What’s So Special About NY-23?

For those of you who aren’t political junkies, NY-23 is New York’s 23rd Congressional District. Until Recently, it was represented by John McHugh (R).

President Barack Obama chose him for a post at the Pentagon, setting up one of two races for congressional seats this fall (the other is California’s 10th District). Yet NY-23 has begun to capture the attention of the nation’s celebrity conservatives and Republicans like no other race in a long time.

NY-23 is a three way race, pitting Democrat Bill Owens against Republican Dede Scozzafava and Conservative Party candidate  Doug Hoffman.

Doug Hoffman

Right wing Republicans like Sarah Palin, Fred Thompson, Michelle Bachman, Steve Forbes, Tim Pawlenty, Dick Armey, and Rick Santorum have flocked to back…..Hoffman the Conservative! Oh yeah, and Congressmen John Linder of Georgia and Todd Tiahrt of Kansas have also jumped on the Hoffman bandwagon.

Newt Gingrich must feel awfully lonely. He’s about the only well known Republican retread backing Scozzafava.

What’s so important about a three way race in upstate New York? Why all this right wing firepower? I’ll hazard a guess.

For Palin and Pawlenty, it’s a chance to burnish their credentials with the conservative base both think they’ll need to run for president in 2012. For the others, it’s a test of conservative strength. It’s a chance to say all is not lost in Barack Obama’s America (you know, the one they want back). They’re banking that voters in upstate New York care about the Bachmans, the Forbes, the Thompsons, the who???

NY-23 is the right on what they hope is the comeback trail. How else top explain why this race threatens to eclipse both the New Jersey and Virginia gubernatorial contests?  Of course, the stakes are high. If all this right wing heft is brought to bear and their guy loses (Owens is currently leading in a couple of polls), what does it say about the true gravitas of the tea party wing of the GOP? Then, on the other side, maybe Doug Hoffman wins. That makes all these right wing Republicans kingmakers in a district most couldn’t find with a GPS. It’s also interesting to hear John Linder in particular bleat about backing Hoffman to end bipartisanship in Washington.

Hey genius, how do you think the seat opened up in the first place? John McHugh, tapped to be Army Secretary, is a Republican! If Owens wins, it will be the first time a Democrat has won the seat in 100 years. No matter what happens, this race has exposed a steel cage match for the soul of the Republican Party.

Do you think it’s worth the trouble, and if so, who will win?

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3 thoughts on “What’s So Special About NY-23?”

  1. I went to a SUNY teachers college, preSUNY word, up on the shores of Lake Ontario. Culture shock for a teen from Brooklyn after Erasmus Hall H.S. and Flatbush Ave. and the Brooklyn Dodgers. The upstate kids couldn’t understand my English and I couldn’t understand theirs: “box” was pronounced “backs” and “sack” was not something for potatoes (yes, I like the “e” but that’s the only thing I agree with any Republican about, Quayle spelled it so) but a brown paper bag as in lunch bag. Someone asked me if I’d been a “gun-moll” because I was from Brooklyn. It was the 2nd half of the 1950s. And they were Republicans. Solid.

    So what if the Dems get the seat? Look at how (this is sarcasm) the Dem. majority in Congress has differentiated itself from the Republicans in the last couple of years.
    And, for the fabulous cliche, for the “icing on the cake”:
    the darned Dems have the majority in the NYS Senate and
    Assembly and look how well that’s turned out for us, the people. I have voted Dem since the dinosaur ages – early
    1960s…and am a Dem. “by a thread” and it’s stretched to my limit. I’m ever more Progressive and the party has left me.

  2. Food for thought……….

    It just makes me think that the G-O-P is under going some kind of implosion. But, even if the Democratic candidate should win, what kind of Democrat in congress would Upstate voters get? And, more importantly, what would that mean for people outside of New York State? My take would be NOT MUCH. Whoever wins would be, essentially, a ‘back bencher’ among more prominent congressional members. One with little clout and, one not selected for key posts regarding federal legislation and committee seats.

    At the same time, it does remind me of earlier races for federal seats. The fight over Bobby Kennedy’s Senate seat, between two essentially liberal candidates of both major parties, which brought about James Buckley, a conservative. Then, there was David Dinkins running against two conservatives in the New York Mayor’s race in 1989.

    Should the Sarah Palin-backed candidate emerge the winner, that could be VERY INTERESTING on the national stage for the former Alaska governor. But, the 23rd CD in New York State is NOT the 15th. This would NOT play out on the grand stage of Big Apple politics. But I could be wrong on this, too.

    -Eric looking at the politics back home from Melbourne, Australia

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