Yesterday, David Weigel had a good piece on the Republican “civil war” unfolding in New York over the race for the open Congressional seat between Doug Hoffman, the choice of the right-wing base, and Dede Scozzafava, who is being backed by the RNC:
In July, Hoffman bid to become the Republican Party’s nominee for a special election in New York’s 23rd Congressional District. The nominee would be chosen by party leaders in the district’s 11 counties; few people were surprised when they chose Deirdre “Dede” Scozzafava, a five-term assemblywoman who’d voted with Democrats on abortion and labor issues, factors that could help the party hold a historically conservative district that had voted for the Obama-Biden ticket last year. Hoffman, a 59-year-old accountant making his first run for office, forged ahead and grabbed the nomination of the venerable Conservative Party.
Since then, Hoffman’s campaign has become this election cycle’s great conservative crusade. On Sept. 5, the candidate was endorsed by 9-12 Candidates, an offshoot of Glenn Beck’s 9-12 Project, and a reflection of the support he was getting on conservative blogs. On Sept. 28, both Fred Thompson and the Club for Growth put their weight behind Hoffman, with the Club putting $250,000 into TV ads attacking Scozzafava and Democratic candidate Bill Owens. Those endorsements, coupled with reports that Scozzafava was struggling, brought the American Conservative Union and the anti-abortion rights group Susan B. Anthony List into the fray to back Hoffman. On Monday afternoon, FreedomWorks chairman Dick Armey announced that he’d campaign for Hoffman, putting the Tea Party movement’s seal of approval on the upstart campaign.
Two weeks out from the election, the battle in upstate New York is being portrayed in the press as a “civil war” between Republican factions. That might understate how much support for Hoffman, and how little for Scozzafava, there is in the conservative movement. As far as the roiling Republican base is concerned, support for Hoffman has become a test of whether a conservative leader can be trusted. Conservative media, from magazines to blogs, are using the low-stakes special election to test their ability to drive news cycles and raise money.
The Family Research Council is particularly incensed at the RNC’s sell-out in this race, saying that what the GOP needs is “good women like Marsha Blackburn and Michele Bachmann in Congress” instead of more “pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage, liberal candidate who fails to reflect the values the Republican Party.”
In fact, so outraged is FRC that they are now declaring that their goal is to “bring down” Scozzafava rather than see a liberal Republican elected:
“This is ridiculous — putting a liberal up like that and expecting everybody [in the GOP] to fall in line. It’s just not going to happen,” says [Connie Mackey, president of the Family Research Council Action Political Action Committee]. “And if we can’t elect Doug Hoffman, frankly we do hope that we at least bring down the Republican candidate.”