The Corner

New York Tea Party Likely to Support Doheny over Hoffman

Remember Doug Hoffman? Last fall, he ran as the Conservative party nominee against liberal Republican Dede Scozzafava and Democrat Bill Owens in a special congressional election in upstate New York. He won the support of Fred Thompson, Sarah Palin, and local tea-party leaders, but he narrowly lost the race to Owens after Scozzafava dropped out and threw her support behind the Democrat.

On Tuesday, Hoffman lost the Republican primary for 2010 to local businessman Matt Doheny, who will challenge Owens for the seat in November. Hoffman is rumored to be considering another independent or third-party run — a move that would threaten to split the conservative vote and leave the Democrats in control of the seat. The tenor of the O’Donnell coverage would naturally lead one to assume that the local tea party would be gearing up to back Hoffman, because, after all, aren’t the tea partiers just gung ho for suicide missions, always backing hopeless candidates over sure things? Not in this case: The Upstate New York Tea Party looks like it will throw its support behind the Republican nominee:

The Upstate New York Tea Party is going to poll its members to decide what to do, but judging from what its chairman said about Wednesday night’s Steering Committee meeting, the group is probably going to switch its support from Doug Hoffman to Matt Doheny.

“The consensus of the Steering Committee is, we would go forward with a poll of our members to see how they felt,” UNYTEA Chairman Mark Barie said Thursday afternoon. “The Steering Committee also felt, as I did, that the Hoffman campaign, barring some miraculous reversal in a week or so, is no longer viable.”

Barie also discussed Doheny’s and Hoffman’s stances on issues and decided that, while Doheny may not be as conservative socially, “he’s a fiscal conservative, and that’s our priority right now.”

In general, I shared many of the reservations about O’Donnell that were expressed around here, but I also understand that Mike Castle just wasn’t conservative enough for tea partiers in Delaware. It’s worth noting amidst all this craziness over O’Donnell that there seems to be a hard-to-define yet very real line separating the Republicans that tea partiers will back with reservations from those they won’t support at all. Castle and Scozzafava clearly fell on the wrong side of that line. Doheny, on the other hand, while not the most conservative candidate in the race for NY-23, is conservative enough, so his electability will most likely earn him the tea party’s endorsement. The point is that the tea party isn’t suicidal in every race, but it considers some Republicans simply beyond the pale, and it’s understandable why it does. The Democrats’ cap-and-trade bill was a monstrosity — it would be very hard to vote for a Republican who voted for that. It’s too bad that Doug Hoffman didn’t win his primary race, but that said, Matt Doheny hasn’t shown any of the troubling signs that turned so many conservatives against Scozzafava. He deserves conservative backing in NY-23, and it looks like he’s going to get it.

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