Monday, November 02, 2009

New York’s 23rd District: More Evidence of Republican Madness

The 23rd District in upstate New York is moderate to conservative and a reliable Republican bastion that hasn’t elected a Democrat to Congress for well over one century. This could end tomorrow if Republicans have anything to say about it. The RNC pumped $1 million down a black hole in that district to support the establishment Republican candidate, Dede Scozzafava, a moderate favored to win ... but for the Tea Baggers, that is, with a little help from Sarah Palin.

They decided Scozzafava -- who is pro-choice -- apparently isn’t ideologically pure enough. So they threw their support behind Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman, a wingnut who calls Glenn Beck a “mentor.” Hoffman catapulted to the front with a narrow lead in a three-way race, until Scozzafava dropped out this weekend and threw her support behind the Democrat, Bill Owens.

The race is up for grabs, but whatever the result, it’s a win-win for Democrats: If the Tea Bagger/Palin candidate wins, this could be the first battle of a GOP civil war for the soul of the Republican Party. Succumb to emboldened Tea Baggers and drift even further to the extreme right and over the cliff, or … marginalize their most extreme elements and try to attract moderate independent voters. Because they are still prisoners of an extremist ideology, there are no good choices for the Republican Party.

As Republicans fight over their identity crisis, Democrats can only hope that the winners will be the Palin/Beck/Limbaugh extremist faction. If they win beginning with New York’s 23rd, the Republican Party could become a permanent minority party with a public identification hovering between 20% and 23%.

In other election news, Republicans will capture the governorship in Virginia, which is no bellwether since, historically, the off-year gubernatorial election in that swing state has gone to the party out of power in the presidency. In New Jersey, it's too close to call now, but I predict the Democrat Jon Corzine will win, with a substantial assist from President Obama. Jersey’s a Democratic state, and this election reminds me a lot of Brendan Byrne's re-election in the 70s, where he overcame a double-digit deficit to win with a weak economy and state taxes as the cutting issues, just as they are this year. In the end, voters grumbled but realized taxes fund things they want, like education and services.

Hypocrite of the Week: Remember Joe “you LIE!” Wilson? Well, it seems Wilson is blaming President Obama for the delays in the delivery of H1N1 vaccines. Except that he voted against legislation funding the accelerated efforts to combat H1N1. So, if it had been up to Wilson, the vaccine shortages would have been more severe. The irony of this situation is that his wife is infected with the H1N1 virus. We hope she recovers, of course, but the Religious Right, that believes in divine intervention, might have taken a different view … if Joe Wilson were a Democrat.

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