Republicans usually have an advantage in New York’s 23rd Congressional District, but in the campaign to replace Congressman John McHugh there, conservatives have gone all out to attack the Republican candidate, Dede Scozzafava.
It’s not that they’re fond of Democrat Bill Owens (though, like most upstate Democrats, he’s pretty conservative) — they have their own candidate, Doug Hoffman, who is running well to the right of Scozzafava, and he has the support of the Club for Growth, Gary Bauer, Fred Thompson, rightwing bloggers, and other such like in his doomed mission.
The reliably rightwing Washington Times is all in: the paper refers to the Democrat and the Republican as “the establishment candidates,” mentions that Daily Kos has applauded Scozzafava, and promotes “the prospect of a tea-party effect” whereby angry yahoos will sweep Hoffman into office. North Country Public Radio sees it as a “Feud among national conservatives” which “could hurt Scozzafava candidacy,” noting that “Republicans insist that Doug Hoffman is nothing more than a spoiler.”
But devoted hardcore conservatives might happily sacrifice the office as there’s a principle involved: Scozzafava supports gay marriage, and has in the past been supported by the Working Families Party (“one of whose co-founders is ACORN,” dudgeons Human Events) among other rightwing hobgoblins.
One might consider Scozzafava the Republican equivalent of Joe Lieberman: a moderate popular with members of the opposing party and despised by her own party’s most ferocious activists. But with the Republicans so weak that they lost the promising NY-20 House seat in April, Scozzafava can’t count on them to carry her water. Bill Owens, a rich lawyer, must be laughing his ass off.