The case for rallying around Dede Scozzafava, the liberal and nominal Republican seeking to represent New York’s conservative 23rd Congressional District, eludes us. Scozzafava was thrust imprudently into the nomination by upstate Republican grandees faced with a special election following Republican John McHugh’s leaving his seat to become secretary of the army. The Republicans once again have shot themselves in the right foot.
In spite of its having gone for Obama in 2008, the district’s history suggests that it is basically conservative; Ms. Scozzafava is basically not. Boy, is she not: Not only pro-choice and in favor of homosexual marriage — common if distasteful concessions to the secular liberals’ agenda — she also supports some of the most odious items on the Left’s wish-list, including the “card check” initiative that would put a big cudgel in the hands of Big Labor while effectively disenfranchising millions of American workers who may not desire to become Teamsters, SEIU members, or similar. She signed the Americans for Tax Reform pledge to oppose tax hikes but immediately declared that she was not bound by having done so. It is no surprise that she is supported by the public-employees unions, ACORN — and Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas Zúñiga. (Really.)
It may be too generous even to say that Ms. Scozzafava is a RINO — Republican In Name Only — inasmuch as she has emanated mixed signals about her commitment to remaining a Republican post-election. (Her spokesman now affirms to The Weekly Standard that Ms. Scozzafava is a “vote for John Boehner to be speaker of the House of Representatives,” if she is in office in 2011; earlier, her campaign had declined to answer that question.) It is entirely conceivable that Ms. Scozzafava will be tempted to switch to the party whose values she shares. She will be especially vulnerable to that temptation if she should face a tough primary challenge in 2010; given that Ms. Scozzafava is to the left of a great many Democratic voters, to say nothing of the typical Republican, the GOP bosses who foisted her upon the party have all but ensured that she does face such a challenge. They very well may have created the next Arlen Specter.
Ms. Scozzafava is being challenged in the race by Doug Hoffman, an across-the-board conservative with an especial interest in fighting runaway federal spending and trimming the excesses associated with the bailouts. He points out, often, that Ms. Scozzafava went so far as to support President Obama’s dodgy stimulus package. The Republican establishment’s machinations have forced Mr. Hoffman to run as an third-party candidate, on the Conservative ticket, but he has attracted the support of a number of high-profile Republicans, former House majority leader Dick Armey among them. Mr. Hoffman also enjoys the support of the Club For Growth. Which is to say, the Republican in the race is not the Republican. Odd, that.
The National Republican Congressional Committee and the Republican National Committee cannot reasonably be expected to reverse themselves and throw their support to a candidate running outside of the official party fold. But the situation, as it stands, is a disgrace. Here is a proposal: Let the Republican powers that be redeem themselves by concentrating their fire on the (official) Democrat in the race, Bill Owens, and let Ms. Scozzafava duke it out with Mr. Hoffman without their intervention. The very least Republicans can do is to cease standing between Republican voters and the conservatives they desire to elect.