In the wake of yesterday’s suprise announcement that Republican candidate Dede Scozzafava was dropping out of the race for the open congressional seat in NY-23, a number of powerful state unions, Scozzafava’s husband, and possibly Scozzafava herself have switched their suppport to Democrat Bill Owens.
Sources upstate told the Daily News yesterday that Scozzafava privately supported Hoffman, and that her non-endorsement was the result of collusion between her campaign and the Hoffman campaign, which feared angering her supporters (or his – his response to her announcement mentioned Nancy Pelosi, but not his former opponent). Today, however, the Watertown Daily Times, the largest paper in the district, which carried her carefully neutral resignation letter, reports “During the day Saturday, she began to quietly and thoughtfully encourage her supporters to vote for Democrat William L. Owens.”
Not everyone in her family was as quiet about it.
In a statement released by the AFL-CIO, Scozzafava’s husband, Ron McDougall, head of the Jefferson/Lewis/St. Lawrence Central Labor Council, gave his endorsement to Owens yesterday, tying Hoffman to George W. Bush and saying he has “little regard for the interests of workers.”
Owens, who like Scozzafava supports the union-friendly Employee Free Choice Act, also gained the endorsements of the New York State Union of Teachers (NYSUT), the AFL-CIO, the UAW. SEIU 1199 was already actively supporting Owens.
Union support has the practical advantage of putting bodies on the street and at the phones for GOTV in what is expected to be a low-turnout race. Polling guru Nate Silver looked at the Siena poll which triggered her announcement, and found that her supporters dislike both Owens (19-50) and independent challenger Doug Hoffman (15-57), but they’re big fans of President Obama (64-31), who supports Owens.
The Daily Times, which had endorsed Scozzafava, now supports Owens, saying “Bill Owens is by far the superior and only choice.” The editorial board, which praises Owens’ concentration on economic issues, is deeply concerned with Hoffman’s conservative support from outside the district.
Mr. Hoffman is running as an ideologue. If he carries out his pledges on earmarks, taxation, labor law reform and other inflexible positions, Northern New York will suffer. This rural district depends on the federal government for an investment in Fort Drum and its soldiers, environmental protection of our international waterway and the Adirondack Park, and the livelihood of all our dairy farmers across the district, among other support. Our representative cannot be locked into rigid promises and policies that would jeopardize these critical sectors of our economy…
It is frightening that Mr. Hoffman is so beholden to right-wing ideologues who dismiss Northern New Yorkers as parochial when people here simply want to know how Mr. Hoffman will protect their interests in Washington.
Frank MacKay, of the Independence Party, also has switched his personal support to Owens, although Scozzafava has their party line on the ballot, something he now says was a mistake. The Independence Party support was said to be a factor in Scott Murphy’s upset win in NY-20.