Friday, April 29, 2011

Elephant Dung #28: Is NY-26 the new NY-23?

Tracking the GOP Civil War

By Michael J.W. Stickings

(For an explanation of this ongoing series, see
here. For previous entries, see here.)

Earlier today, R.K. Barry posted on the goings on in NY-23, the district that in 2009 saw one of the very first Tea Party uprisings.

As you may recall, Conservative candidate Doug Hoffman emerged to challenge moderate Republican Dede Scozzafava in a special election to replace John McHugh, who resigned to become secretary of the Army. With lackluster backing from the party that nominated her and some high-profile Republicans switching their support to Hoffman, Scozzafava pulled out of the race, endorsing Democrat Bill Owens, who ended up winning the seat narrowly over Hoffman. Owens won again in 2012, even more narrowly over Republican Matthew Doheney. But it was Hoffman who made the difference. He took just enough support away from Doheney to allow Owens to pull it out.

Well, what happened in NY-23 may also be happening in NY-26, where a rich Teabagger, Jack Davis, is dividing Republican/conservative support just the way Hoffman did. The seat is currently vacant, following the resignation of Republican Chris Lee (of Craigslist scandal fame) earlier this year, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo called a special election for May 24.

There's little doubt that it's a Republican seat to lose. Republican Jane Corwin is ahead in the polls, but not by much. Democrat Kathy Hochul is just a few points behind. But Davis is running a strong third, and he's clearly draining support from Corwin. If his support holds up, Hochul could squeak through. Indeed, what should be a slam dunk for the Republicans has been turned into a toss-up by Davis, and the only way the Democrat can win is if the Republican/conservative vote is split, if Davis, like Hoffman, makes just enough of a difference.

What's interesting, though, is that Davis is an ex-Democrat. He even ran for the seat as a Democrat in 2006 and 2008, losing both times. And his views are hardly mainstream (conservative) Republican. He's opposed to the Republicans' budget proposals and is generally isolationist/protectionist. In that latter regard, he's more Buchananite paleo-conservative than business-oriented Republican. He appears to be a right-wing populist, and is certainly trying to appeal to the Tea Party, but he's certainly less of a Teabagger than Hoffman. And, indeed, the Tea Party itself is split between Corwin, something of a Scozzafava-like moderate, and Davis.

It looks to be a brutal campaign, with the right bitterly divided. The district may be Republican enough that Corwin can pull it out, but it's certainly going to be a lot closer than it otherwise should have been. And, once again, we see conservatives turning a safe Republican seat into an opportunity for the Democrats, and all because the Tea Party and its allies on the right are waging a campaign to control the Republican Party by narrowing its ideological scope and purging it of insufficiently conservative (in Tea Party terms) elements. So determined are they, so convinced of their righteousness, that they're apparently willing to commit political suicide in the process.

We'll have to see if NY-26 is indeed the new NY-23. I suspect that Davis has peaked and that Corwin, who has some Tea Party support, will pull it out. But what's going on there is instructive, and what we're seeing is a preview of much more to come in 2012.

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  • Coming from someone who lives in this district. I'm baffled Corwin is running on the same lies the repub's did back in November (jobs jobs jobs) and everyone is believing it. Even tho they have done everything but - and that includes their war on the middle class (which this district is composed of.

    I find it hard to believe some self funded silverspoon millionaire looking to get richer. Cares about my families best interest.

    By Blogger Shack95, at 10:08 AM  

  • I can't believe the repub. base still believe the money will trickle down.Maybe it is "BLIND RACISM". I thought everyone knew by now that most of our middle class jobs are shipped to China. why do you think their economy is much better than ours?

    By Blogger Unknown, at 12:12 PM  

  • An alternative view of Jane Corwin, I'm sure which was not approved by the candidate herself, is found at This site is run by Ian Murphy, the blogger who successfully pranked called Wisconsin governer Scott Walker, pretending to be billionaire reactionary David Koch.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:52 PM  

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