Re-canvassed votes in upstate New York’s 23rd Congressional District foreshadow the second coming of third-party candidate Doug Hoffman. As Mark Weiner of the Syracuse Post-Standard reported Thursday morning, Conservative nominee Hoffman’s 5,335-vote deficit behind Democrat Bill Owens has shrunk to just 3,026 after Election Night tabulation errors were corrected. Some 10,200 absentee ballots remain uncounted. State Board of Elections spokesman John Conklin told Weiner, “All ballots will be counted, and if the result changes, Owens will have to be removed.”
However this develops, before Election Day 2009 vanishes into the rear-view mirror, one big myth demands correction, lest it harden into “fact.” Dede Scozzafava is no moderate Republican. The GOP state assemblywoman who abandoned this special election boasts a solid liberal record of votes and activism far left of the GOP’s center, or even its wobbly port flank — home of Maine senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe.
Nonetheless, the GOP’s detractors are showcasing Scozzafava as “proof” that reasonable centrists are unwelcome in today’s intolerant, extreme, far-right Republican party.
The Washington Post’s Jason Horowitz called the six-term legislator “a little-known state assemblywoman with moderate Republican views and a mouthful of a surname.” Horowitz’s November 10 piece was sub-headlined: “It’s a Grand Old Purging as moderate’s ouster spotlight’s Republican dysfunction.”
As CBS News’s Steve Chaggaris remarked: “Conservative Republicans will undoubtedly claim victory in sidelining the moderate GOPer, Scozzafava.”
UrbanDictionary.com now defines “Scozzafaved” as being “Purged of moderation, e.g., within a Congressional district.”
Scozzafava is no upstate version of Long Island’s Peter King (2008 American Conservative Union rating: 50) nor Florida’s Lincoln Diaz-Balart (52), truly centrist congressional Republicans who somehow go astray without offending the party’s beliefs or enflaming its base. Conversely, Scozzafava is a donkey in an elephant costume. Consider just a few lowlights from her previous record and recent campaign:
‐Scozzafava earned a feeble 15 out of 100 on the New York Conservative party’s latest legislative report card. Sheldon Silver, an ultraliberal Manhattan trial lawyer and State Assembly Democratic leader, earned a 10. Conservative party chairman Mike Long observed that in the state house, “46 Democrats have voting records more conservative than the Republican pick for Congress!”
‐Scozzafava voted not once, not twice, but 190 times to raise or extend taxes. Few issues are more sacred to the GOP faithful than tax limitation. There is nothing moderate about violating this core party tenet — not rarely, but nearly 200 times.
Indeed, Scozzafava’s tax votes are so bad that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee attacked her on them.
“Albany politician Dede Scozzafava voted to raise or extend taxes on New Yorkers over 190 times,” declared a September 22 DCCC press release, denouncing “increases on sales taxes to wireless surcharges.”
‐As columnist Michelle Malkin recalls, Scozzafava voted in Albany for Democratic budgets, approved a $180 million state-level bank bailout, and backed President Obama’s $787 billion stimulus package.
‐Scozzafava favors “card check” legislation that would kill secret ballots in union-organizing elections. She also accepted campaign cash from the Longshoremen’s, Electrical Workers’, and Service Employees’ unions, as well as the National Education Association, the notorious teacher’s union that just screams “NO!” to nearly every school-choice initiative.
‐“I was first on the Planned Parenthood board when I returned to the North Country,” Scozzafava said last year as she accepted the Family Planning Advocates’ Margaret Sanger Award for pro-abortion activism. It’s bad enough for a Republican to be pro-abortion. But must she be an award-winning pro-abortion Republican?
‐Scozzafava was endorsed by the leftist, ACORN-associated Working Families Party and ran on its ballot line with 2008’s Obama-Biden ticket and 2004’s Kerry-Edwards team.
‐Scozzafava was endorsed by Markos Moulitsas, editor of The Daily Kos, arguably the Left’s most influential political website. Beneath the headline “NY 23: The most liberal candidate leads (and it’s not the Dem),” Moulitsas wrote: “So it’s official, I’m rooting for the Republican to win.”
‐Citing polling numbers that plunged after the district’s mainly GOP voters recoiled at her record, Scozzafava suddenly fled the race on Halloween, just three days before the election. Most nominal Republicans would have mirrored the Republican National Committee and endorsed Conservative Hoffman, or at least stayed neutral. Instead, Scozzafava did something truly un-Republican: She embraced Democrat Bill Owens. With Scozzafava’s backing, and amid all this tumult, Owens edged Hoffman 49 percent to 45 on November 3, with Scozzafava scoring 5 percent.
If elected, Hoffman would have rebuffed Nancy Pelosi’s Obamacare bill on November 7. That might have persuaded Rep. Ahn Cao (R., La.) to reverse his lone GOP “yes” vote and join his conference in unanimously rejecting Pelosi’s 1,990-page behemoth. Seeing 100 percent Republican opposition might have inspired another Democrat to spurn this legislation. Obamacare then would have failed by exactly one vote, and this entire sick mess would have flatlined. Thus, Dede Scozzafava is as plausibly responsible as anyone for keeping Obamacare alive.
GOP voters and activists at least grudgingly can accept moderate Republicans who sometimes violate Reaganite principles, especially in states like New York that are not quite Texas or Utah. But henceforth, GOP leaders must understand that picking Scozzafavian candidates is a recipe for revulsion among party stalwarts. If GOP elders prefer to see teardrops rather than confetti fall on election night, they should nominate more Democrats like Dede Scozzafava.
— Deroy Murdock is a New York-based columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution.