Dems Breathe Life into NY Conservative by Attacking Him

By Jacqueline Klingebiel

Oct 21, 2009 4:55pm

ABC News' David Chalian reports on the prospect of “blowback” for Dems in NY-23:  There’s an old adage in politics.  If your opponent is attacking you, you must be doing something right.  In the special House race taking place in northern New York State, that adage is likely giving some comfort to the Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman. For most of the last month in this three-way contest, Democrats appeared happy to let the Republican candidate, Dede Scozzafava, and the conservative Hoffman beat each other up and split the vote on the right allowing their candidate, Bill Owens, to eke out a victory. However, a funny thing happened on the way to the Election Day.  Assemblywoman Scozzafava is a pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, pro-labor Republican and those positions seem to have her far enough out of the mainstream of the Republican Party to create a significant opening for Hoffman’s third-party candidacy. The Republican leaning district had been represented by moderate GOP Rep. John McHugh until President Obama appointed him as Secretary of the Army. A recent Siena Research Institute poll showed Owens out in front with 33%, Scozzafava got 29%, and Hoffman pulled in 23% support. But it was Hoffman who showed the greatest uptick in support from Siena’s October 1 poll where he had 16% support. Democrats have taken notice and are no longer content to sit on the sidelines as Scozzafava fades.  The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee issued its first hit on Hoffman today on the issue of taxes. “Doug Hoffman wants to extend the Bush tax breaks for the wealthy that are unfair to the middle class and will add more than $500 billion to the federal deficit,” said DCCC spokesman Shripal Shah.  “Times are tough and upstate New Yorkers can’t afford Doug Hoffman’s tax breaks for the wealthy that puts more of the tax burden on the middle class and more debt burden on our children and grandchildren,” he added.  The Hoffman campaign welcomes the Democrats to the fight. “All the DCCC has to do is look in the mirror to find out why we have big spending, high taxes, and a ballooning deficit.  It’s because of Nancy Pelosi and President Obama,” said Hoffman’s communications adviser Rob Ryan. Mr. Hoffman and his campaign have made running against national Democrats a centerpiece of the debate. “It’s obvious Doug Hoffman is the candidate with the momentum in the race.  The media realize it, the National Republican Congressional Committee realizes it, and now the DCCC does too,” added Ryan. Although the conservative former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has thrown his support to the moderate Scozzafava, many national conservative figures are rallying to Hoffman’s cause.  The conservative organization Club for Growth has thrown its support and substantial financial resources (in the form of television ads) behind Hoffman.  Today, Hoffman appeared on Glenn Beck’s radio program to make his case and tomorrow one of the leading organizers of the tea parties and health care protests in August, former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, plans to campaign in the district with Hoffman. Bracing for a tough 2010 midterm election cycle, Democrats are hopeful to flip this seat to their side of the aisle.  But they need Scozzafava, the Republican, to remain strong and viable enough to split all the non-Democratic leaning vote with Hoffman.  Today, the DCCC tried to help her along a bit.

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