Sunday, November 1, 2009

Scozzafava Resignation From Upstate NY Race Shows Shrinking Of GOP Tent

The resignation of assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava (left) from the race for an upstate New York Congressional seat shows that there's no room for moderation in today's Republican party. Though Scozzafava was backed by the Republican National Committee and party leaders Michael Steele and Newt Gingrich, she was under siege from prominent right wingers such as Sarah Palin and Dick Armey for being too liberal on social and fiscal issues.

The race is now between accountant Douglas L. Hoffman of the Conservative Party and lawyer Bill Owens, a Democrat. Some Republicans criticized the intrusion into district affairs:

...If we get into a cycle where every time one side loses, they run a third-party candidate, we’ll make Pelosi speaker for life and guarantee Obama’s re-election,” said Mr. Gingrich, who had endorsed Ms. Scozzafava.

“They’re trying to bang 435 elections across the United States into the same mold,” said James Ellis, chairman of the Franklin County Republican Party. “It’s a detriment to democracy.”

Frank Rich, in "The G.O.P. Stalinists Invade Upstate New York," agreed with Gingrich on the danger to the Republican party of insisting on ideological purity:

...it’s even better for Democrats if Hoffman wins. Punch-drunk with this triumph, the right will redouble its support of primary challengers to 2010 G.O.P. candidates they regard as impure. That’s bad news for even a Republican as conservative as Kay Bailey Hutchison, whose primary opponent in the Texas governor’s race, the incumbent Rick Perry, floated the possibility of secession at a teabagger rally in April and hastily endorsed Hoffman on Thursday. The more rightists who win G.O.P. primaries, the greater the Democrats’ prospects next year.

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