Dede Scozzafava

41st Senator…45th President?

By the end of the 2010s, we could be calling him President Scott Brown. 


The newly elected US Senator from Massachusetts ran an error-free campaign, strongly emphasizing economic and security issues and always taking the high road. His opponent, scandal-scarred Attorney General Martha Coakley, ran a vehemently negative campaign filled with disgusting lies—and she paid the price for it. 


Assuming that Brown is re-elected in 2012 (the winner of the January 19th election will complete the remaining three years of the late Ted Kennedy’s term), and also assuming that the Republican challenger to President Obama (whoever he or she may be) comes up short that year, Brown would have to be considered an odds-on favorite to become the GOP’s standard-bearer in 2016. Will he have liabilities? Of course—but his positives will outweigh those negatives by a factor of a thousand. 


Brown is a center-right figure for what conservatives often assert is a center-right nation. As a candidate for the US Senate, he tapped into the same spirit of optimism Ronald Reagan embodied on his way to winning Massachusetts in the 1980 Presidential election. He also tapped into the voters’ desire for competent leadership. 


Remember when doomed 1988 Presidential hopeful Michael Dukakis declared that his campaign was about competence, not ideology? In reality, that’s what most voters in this country are looking for. While Reagan and Barack Obama are on opposite ends of the ideological spectrum, they both achieved blowout Electoral College victories because they convinced voters that despite their policy positions, they would place effective leadership above ideological crusades.  


Brown traversed ideological barriers because of his promise to do the same. He was a true uniter on the campaign trail, attracting even committed progressives with his message of stewardship and honesty. He could do the same if he attempts to win the White House. 


Can he make it to the Oval Office? Why can’t he? The two biggest liabilities he will face involve his status as a “Northeastern Republican” and his moderately pro-choice stance on the abortion question. He should be able to overcome these obstacles. 


With regard to the “Northeastern Republican” image, it should be remembered that Brown is to the right of the last Republican to win a US Senate seat in Massachusetts, the profoundly progressive Edward Brooke. Brown may not march in lockstep with the broader Republican Party, but he certainly shares the party’s main vision with regard to economic reinvigoration and aggressive antiterrorism efforts. No one will ever confuse him with Dede Scozzafava. 


Conservative primary voters who reject Brown in 2016 because he’s from the Bay State would make a crucial mistake. Brown can explain conservative principles with vigor in his voice and hope in his heart. Few Republicans can do the same. Brown is a throwback to the days of optimistic conservatism—the only brand of conservatism that is proven to win national elections by significant margins. 


As for the abortion question, by the mid-2010s the GOP will have decided whether to accept moderately pro-choice Presidential candidates such as Brown, or to pressure them to shift their status on this issue, as George H. W. Bush did in 1980 after being selected as Reagan’s running mate. With aging Focus on the Family founder James Dobson shifting roles and few obvious successors to inherit his position as the most influential figure among social conservatives, it’s possible that the GOP could decide to effectively tell values voters that they have nowhere else to go, and that they can either get behind a moderately pro-choice Republican candidate such as Brown, or stay home on Election Day and allow a Democrat obedient to NARAL Pro-Choice America to succeed Obama and nominate federal judges who will effectively make Roe v. Wade impossible to reverse. If social conservatives choose the former path, Brown will at least give a fair and open hearing to their concerns.  


As the 2016 GOP nominee, Brown could unify the party, settling the grudges and grievances that have beset Republicans for far too long.  He could appeal to the David Limbaughs and David Frums of the party, reestablishing the conservative-centrist coalition Reagan first brought together. Brown could well become the first Republican since Reagan to win “blue” regions of the country—and make hardcore Democrats blue in the process.


If Brown makes it to the White House, we could bear witness to the true resurgence of conservatism that George W. Bush’s 2000 election promised, but was unable to deliver. If I were a devoted Democrat, this thought would surely make me quiver.

2009 Alt Histories

Now that the dust has settled, I thought it might be useful to look at the off-year election and consider what alternative strategies might have yielded.  One thing I've learned about politics is never to buy determinism; there are always a variety of possible outcomes.

Well, here's a few scenarios:

a) Terry McAulliffe was the Democratic nominee for Virginia Governor

It's what everyone expected. Would he have done better than Deeds; or was his weak primary showing evidence he'd have been roadkill in the general election?

b) Jon Corzine stands down on October 1;  NJ Dems do the "Torricelli switch" to Rep. Frank Pallone or Newark Mayor Cory Booker

In retrospect, my belief that Corzine was burnt toast proved correct. It's hard to fault his campaign for his loss, the voters simply wanted him gone. But what if after using Corzine's cash to bloody up Christie the NJ Dems threw a "relief pitcher" into the race? Different outcome? Or would NJ voters reacted poorly to this strategy being used twice? 

c) Deeds runs as an anti-Obama "New Democrat" ala Mark Warner; focuses on downstate VA


d) Deeds runs as a outspoken Obamabot and focuses on NOVA

The consensus is Deeds did neither well and got crushed. Would choosing one or the other have made any difference?

e) No one outside NY State comes to the aid of Doug Hoffman

The Club for Growth, Sarah Palin, Erick Erickson and Glenn Beck are credited or blamed for what happened in NY 23. Given what happened in the local state senate race in 2004, I think the NY Conservative Party was capable under its own power to ensure Scozzafava's defeat? Agree? Disagree?

And what would the national impact of a "quiet" Owens victory have been?

Throw some other possible scenarios out there. Let's reverse engineer these races if we can.

The things you see in the breakroom

    Some idiot at work keeps tuning the TV in the breakroom to CNN so everytime I go in there to top off my water I have no choice but to listen to the drivel that comes from there.  Two days ago (sorry for the delay on my posting...) I caught part of an interview with Dede Scozzafava.  The caption below her says "GOP strips Scozzafava of her leadership role".  Well no duh!  The woman endorsed the Democrat canidate!  Why shouldn't she be stripped of her leadership role? 

And then the anchor asked her if there would be a place for moderates in the upcoming 2010 elections...  Hello!  This woman is pro choice, pro taxes, pro card check, pro union, pro government run health care.  In what way is she a moderate?  I get so tired of liberals calling other liberals "moderates".  Grow a pair and admit you're a liberal and that anyone who believes most of the things you believe is not a "moderate" but just as much of a liberal as you are....


Dede's 30 pieces of "Silver"? Scozzafava makes secret deal to switch parties?

The Politico reports that the White House under Rahm Emanuel orchesterated the Scozzafava endorsement of Bill Owens in NY 23.

Fearful that the party had almost no chance of winning the Nov. 3 New York special election after Republican nominee Dede Scozzafava abruptly announced Saturday that she was dropping out, high-ranking national Democrats immediately began working to secure her endorsement of Democrat Bill Owens, POLITICO has learned.



On Sunday afternoon, their vigorous efforts paid off as Scozzafava bucked her own party and issued a statement supporting Owens over Conservative Party nominee Doug Hoffman, a coup for Democrats who recognized that their best remaining chance of winning the Republican-leaning seat on Tuesday was to swing disaffected Scozzafava supporters their way. By Sunday night, Scozzafava had taped her endorsement and it was being delivered via robo-call into targeted district households.



The story of how it went down began in Washington, where the White House and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee quarterbacked the effort to secure Scozzafava’s endorsement.

And if you think the real reason for this 11th hour betrayal was about helping her district, please. We are talking about an Albany politician, now.

Scozzafava was offered material inducements for her endorsement from Democratic Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. 

Also critical was Silver’s assurance, in a phone conversation with Scozzafava, that the state Assembly Democratic caucus would embrace her if she chose to switch parties, now viewed as a real possibility after her endorsement Sunday of Owens.



June O'Neill, until earlier this year the New York Democratic Party chair, played an even more important role in courting Scozzafava, according to one New York official, because they “go to the same social events—church bingo night and the high school dance.”

It now seems highly likely Scozzafava is going to switch parties and be assured of various legislative perks---maybe even a chairmanship-- from Speaker Silver. And she will be assured  of  hige financial backing from the NY Democrats for her re-election. And who knows how many "member items" are going to be dangled her way?

There's an old saying that an honest politician is one who stays bought. I suppose we will see in a few days if that describes Ms. Scozzafava

Linda McMahon: Stealth Scozzafava?

I went through some mail that accumulated on a chair in my foyer and found the latest glossy missive from "Republican" Senate candidate Linda McMahon (a/k/a "the Wild RINO')

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It had a stone wall full of blocks wherein she claimed a bunch of principles were the "foundation" of her campaign.

Stuff like "integrity", "fiscal responsbility",  "honesty"----yadda, yadda, yadda.

This is a hoot coming from someone who subsidized Nancy Pelosi's takeover of the House in 2006.

And isn't it a bit odd to have a wrestling promoter running on a ticket of telling the truth?

She's a "Blue Moon" candidate alright. Madison Avenue has decided that being a conservative is fashionable this season, and so Ms. McMahon, like any good Greenwich gazillionaire, follows fashion

It's just not cool to be Rahm Emanuel's favorite Republican even in a CT primary. So her huge stable of Republican establishment hacks and flacks are doing an extreme makeover; much like Newt Gingrich is trying to do in NY 23. 

Linda McMahon is the "stealth Scozzafava". The RINO from upstate NY was easy to spot; her legislative record and history of endorsements made clear the Republican Party was a matter of convenience to her, not conviction.

McMahon is no different.  Much as Scozzafava played ball with the Left, how else is one to explain McMahon's persistent financial support of liberal Democrats.

And why is it when one finds her supporting Republicans, they are among the most liberal in the entire party...even adamantly opposed to conservatives.

Linda McMahon may put blocks of granite on her glitzy mailers. But her Republican credentials are tissue thin.  


Hey, NRCC/RNC...want data?

Erick Erickson, who is admittedly the mastermind behind Doug-mania in the Rightosphere, has a rather disturbing post in RedState.

Two party officials tell POLITICO that the NRCC will continue to air TV ads propping up Scozzafava in the days leading up to the Nov. 3 contest and plans to keep up a near relentless barrage of press releases slamming Hoffman.

Here’s my favorite part, which is also the most insulting:

Asked why so many prominent Republicans had thrown their support to Hoffman, the official responded, “We’re dealing with data, not hopes and dreams

OK. I'm a data driven guy. Let's look at these numbers.

1. Let's assume the Kos poll is correct.   It shows Doug Hoffman in third place. It also shows Dede Scozzafava with the highest negatives in the race. And that if Hoffman wasn;t running, very few of his supporters would show any interest in backing Scozzafava. And, hmm what is the likely impact on such voters of running negatives on Hoffman?

Democrat candidate Bill Owens is sitting pretty;  by my estimates if he turns out the same Democratic House vote the losing candidate got in the 2006 midterm (which had turnout comparable to the 2009 20th CD special) he stands to win. Especially since the NRCC strategy will lead to less Republican turnout. Brilliant. 

2. With the exception of Newt Gingrich, most informed people realize Scozzafava is going to be one of, if not the most liberal members of the GOP caucus. And the one most likely to switch parties (more on the reasoning later).  On the other hand, Owens was a registered independent until recently and has focused much of his campaign on military issues.  So, it seems reasonable to think he's be a bit of a Blue Dog, especially compared to other northeastern Democrats.

True, Owens is a pro "public option" vote. But can we be sure Scozzafava isn't?. She hasn't committed, has she? (The Politico seems to think she's off the reservation already)

Query to the Beltway Brain Trust: How much is a RINO worth to us compared to a Blue Dog?  Maybe we'd be better off losing the bidding war and letting Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer try and keep another wobbler in line.   

3. This seat is a rental. Not a purchaseNew York will certaintly lose a House Seat for '12. The Democrats are highly likely to control reapportionment (they control it now). The 23rd is the least Republican seat we still hold in NY; it has no major population centers, and will be held by a low seniority member.  The Democrats will make an upstate Republican walk the plank and the 23rd could easily be parcelled out between the Democrat held 20th (Saratoga), 24th (Utica) and 25th (Syracuse) districts.  

Which comes to Scozzafava switching parties. Anyone think she wouldn't flip parties to save her district and make a Republican colleague lose his seat in the re-map? Please.

4, Stop doing single-entry accounting, folks.  The DC Republicans are looking at the cost of holding one House seat.  And that's not insignificant. But they certainly don't have the cash-on-hand to fight in 40-60 seats next fall. That's going to take a monumental effort from the party's contrbutor base.

Hmm, guys, where do you plan to get that cash after you tell your most loyal contributors to stuff it? Last time I checked, K Street had sold out to Obama and Pelosi.  Unless you plan to borrow Ben Bernacke's printing press, appeasing the folks who write you checks might seem like a good idea.  

5, For the effect of electing a useless RINO while alienating the financial base of the party, please look up this definition. You genuises in DC are bright enough to figure this concept out, right?

When one considers the potential lost revenue for next year, this might turn out to be the most expensive House campaign in American history.

It seems the NRCC simply can't get out of its own way when it comes to upstate New York elections.  In 2006 they helped lose the 24th District, in 2008 we lost the 25th and 29th districts. And early this year their efforts were so counterproductive in the 20th District Jim Tedisco had to disavow them.

My suggestion to the DC Republicans. Quit while you're behind.  Punt on 4th down. Accept that the voters are going to do what they are going to do in the 23rd District. And hire someone with a clue before the '10 cycle gets going in earnest.

NY 23: It's time for Ed Cox to play Barry Goldwater

In August 1974, President Richard Nixon had reached the end of his political rope. Facing certain impeachment, he was counseled by the wise old man of the Republican party, Barry Goldwater, that the time had come to pack it in and stop fighting a futile battle to retain office.

35 years later, Nixon's son-in-law Ed Cox is now the state chairman of the New York State Republican party. He has but a few days to play the same role as Barry Goldwater did--and explain political reality to 23rd District Congressional nominee Dede Scozzafava.

I'm not going to provide a detailed description of how the wheels have come off the GOP nominee's campaign: suffice it to say it's been the political version of a gory slasher movie.  Perhaps a proper campaign could have been fashioned for Ms. Scozzafava months ago, but the inept, petty, snarky and insolvent team behind her has made victory an impossibility.

As State Chairman, Mr. Cox has an obligation to win as many elections as possible for the NY Republican Party. Retaining Ms. Scozzafava as the active nominee in the 23rd District guarantees a split vote and the election of Democrat Bill Owens.

Cox bears no responsibility for this nomination; it occurred on his predecessor's watch. But now he has the ability to fix things before it's too late. 

He should convene a conference call of the county chairs in the 23rd District to discuss the party's options. And he should make a trip to the North Country and advise Ms. Scozzafava, that--- for the good of the party; her time is up.

There's probably an inability to execute the classic New Jersey "Torricelli switch" at this very late date; but were Ms. Scozzafava to announce her campaign was "being suspended" Republican regulars would clearly get the message to vote for conservative Doug Hoffman.

Ed Cox promised New York Republicans he'd be a new kind of chairman and an active force towards victory.  Here's an opportunity he has to do what Newt Gingrich and Michael Steele won't do---find the best way not to lose a Republican house seat. 

And as of this moment- that requires the weaker non-Democratic candidate to stand down. 

Someone has to do the dirty work of making that happen.   You're on, Ed.


NY-23: Doug Hoffman for Congress

The Sienna poll of New York's 23rd Congressional district released Friday found Democrat Bill Owens pulling into the lead with 33 percent, followed by liberal Republican Dede Scozzafava at 29 and Conservative Party hopeful Doug Hoffman at 23. 

Combined, the Republican and Conservative lines lead the Democrat 52 to 33 percent. And in a normal election, that would be that -- maybe 95% of the time the Conservatives cross-endorse the Republican. 

Scozzafava's particularly egregious liberal record -- pro-card check and pro-stimulus -- rendered that impossible. And so we are faced with a center-right vote that's nearly evenly split, enabling a Democrat (who many believe to be more conservative than Scozzafava) to squeak by.

It is a simple, indisputable fact that the Republican and Conservative voters of NY-23 will have to rally around one candidate to prevent a Democratic pickup. And that candidate should be Conservative Republican Doug Hoffman.

Sadly, the RNC and NRCC are doubling down on a flawed candidate with little chance of generating any significant momentum in the last 16 days. In many ways, this should be a situation like Bernie Sanders' many elections in Vermont, or Joe Lieberman's election in 2006, where there should be no harm and no foul in supporting a viable, like-minded independent over a non-starting major party nominee. 

Instead, this looks set to go down as yet another misfire by DC Republicans, drying up the small donor base to the committees with a shortsighted "all Republicans are created equal" approach to supporting liberal Republicans when perfectly acceptable conservative alternatives exist. 

I'm not one to suggest that the party should go out of its way to anoint candidates who can't win in blue states. Rather, I am suggesting that there is a pragmatic case for the NRSC and NRCC to stay neutral in more primaries or support conservatives in a way that doesn't lose elections -- and makes it more likely that Mitch McConnell will prevail on the Senate floor more often. 

Take everyone's favorite example, the Florida Senate race. There is no doubting the fact -- even amongst conservatives -- that Charlie Crist is practically unbeatable in a general election. Let's peg his chances against Kendrick Meek at 95 percent. 

The problem is that Marco Rubio is no slouch in this department either. The polls I've seen have him up double digits over Meek. Assume that Rubio's chances in a general election are between 80 and 85 percent. 

Looking at electability only, Crist would still come out ahead. But that doesn't necessarily give Senate Republicans their best outcome. Notice I said Senate Republicans, not conservatives. 

Naturally, the national party is going to go for the "W" wherever it can in order to bolster its number of seats. And if this were the only thing that mattered, electability alone would be king. 

The problem, as we are finding out in the health care debate, is that it's not enough to have 60 Democrats to break a filibuster, or 41 Republicans to sustain one. How your members vote in that process matters to the outcome. In deciding which candidates to support, the national party committees -- not just activists -- should be looking at whether the candidates are likely to support leadership on key floor votes. If Rubio is just 10 or 15 percent better than Crist on key votes, Crist's electability advantage is nullified from the perspective of Leader McConnell and the Senate Republican Conference. 

To me, this could go either way given that Crist is not liberal in the way that Olympia Snowe is, and that his maverickness has always been more about staking out a particular brand in Florida than currying favor with a liberal electorate. But even so, the PR advantage of having a high-profile Hispanic conservative with a potential national career ahead of him tips the scale in Rubio's favor. 

The same would go in California. Carly Fiorina does not have a particularly strong electability advantage over Chuck DeVore, and her celebrity CEO past renders her vulnerable to rookie mistakes and greater scrutiny of her private sector activities. It would be one thing for the NRSC to support Fiorina if she were polling 10 to 15 points better than DeVore against Boxer, but she's not. 

In deciding whether to support conservatives like Hoffman, Rubio, and DeVore, there is a reasonable middle ground between craven winnerism and a kamikaze strategy that ignores electability. The committees should factor in adherence to core Republican principles (in addition to electability) because the job of a political party is not just to win elections, but to win votes on the floor. And though the impact of an errant member is much less in the House than it is in the Senate, Scozzafava's not-so-veiled threats to switch parties if she isn't treated nicely should render her completely unacceptable to Michael Steele and Pete Sessions, who should make it clear that they won't be blackmailed. 

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