Friday, April 29, 2011

What's new in New York's 23rd Congressional District?


I was wondering today how things were going in the NY-23rd Congressional district. You may recall events in the district that took what probably should have been a safe GOP seat and handed it to the Democrats due to infighting between more mainstream Republicans and the Tea Party.

This started when Republican John M. McHugh resigned the seat on September 21, 2009 in order to become the Secretary of the Army. Thus a special election was required, which, under normal circumstances almost certainly would have been won by the Republican nominee, Dede Scozzafava, who had previously been a member of the New York State Assembly.

What made circumstances other than normal was that Scozzafava supported abortion rights and gay marriage and had other unseemly affiliations, as far as the emerging Tea Party movement was concerned.

Tim Pawlenty and Sarah Palin, among others, decided to put their weight behind some sad sack character who would run under the Conservative Party banner. I believe his name was Doug Hoffman, though as I recall he was a terrible political performer and has mercifully disappeared into political obscurity, but not before he could lend the Democrats a very useful helping hand.

Long story short, running as a third party candidate, Hoffman made it impossible for Scozzafava to win. Upon realizing this, and no doubt sick of being vilified by members of her own party, she dropped out and ending up endorsing the Democrat, Bill Owens (pictured above).

Owens not only won in 2009, but won again in 2010 when Hoffman, having failed to secure the Republican nomination ran (again) as a third party candidate allowing Owens another two-year term. Oddly, Hoffman dropped out late in the race, but too late to have his name removed from the ballot. In the end, Owens got about 48%, the nominated Republican (Matthew Doheny) got about 46% and our helpful friend Hoffman got 6%. That's what they call a spoiler. Yes indeed.

I think I've got the details mostly right and I only recount them because I see that the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) is already hard at work to reclaim the seat, as they may be able to do (assuming they don't blow their feet off again). Okay, I'm also recounting it because I'm really hoping that Republicans and the Tea Partiers amongst them dance the same dance all over America in 2012.

In total, the NRCC is targeting 23 Congressional districts with robo calls and even some television ads with the same basic message, which I found interesting and perhaps indicative of things to come. So, take heed.

Here's the script:

Hello, I'm calling from the National Republican Congressional Committee with an important alert about your Congressman Bill Owens. Thanks to Owens' addiction to spending, the federal government borrows $4 billion every day. That's given us fourteen trillion dollars in debt on the backs of our children and grandchildren. And Bill Owens is making it worse. He voted for another Pelosi budget that would strangle our economy with more spending, more debt and more borrowing from China. Call Congressman Owens and tell him to stop spending your money. Paid for by the National Republican Congressional Committee. Not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.

And, if you insist, here's the ad:


The usual ham-fisted bullshit. My favorite part is the bit with the People's Republic of China and the big red curtain and the Statue of Liberty, that and the beautiful children we are condemning to lives of desperation. It almost brings a tear to my eye.

I didn't see any seniors in the clip who will live their "golden years" terrified that they won't be able to pay for their health care if the Republicans get their way. Maybe the next ad will cover all that.

Just to prove the game is on, a spokesperson for Congressman Owens responded by saying:

Now the Washington attack dogs are trying to distract voters from Rep. Owens' fight to protect Upstate seniors from the Ryan Budget, which would end Medicare as we know it and increase health care costs for the next generation of seniors.

Indeed.

(Cross-posted to Lippmann's Ghost.)

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