October 29, 2009
Next Tuesday's Lessons for 2010By C. Edmund Wright
OMG. From the "backwater" town of Wasilla, the naïve hockey-mom moose-huntress simply "Facebooked" a few thoughts into her device of choice, and damned if those words didn't bounce off a satellite and land squarely in the middle of New York state politics. Key among those words was the phrase "endorse Doug Hoffman."
Perhaps they landed in the middle of the run up to the 2010 mid term elections as well.
And from the glass towers of Manhattan to the stately low-rise buildings of Washington, self-important media pundits and Republican Party hacks are once again slow to realize that they have been outmaneuvered, out-finessed, and outsmarted by their favorite target of derision, Sarah Palin.
I wonder if David Brooks has quit staring at the crease in Obama's pants long enough to notice.
By her endorsement of Conservative Party candidate Hoffman in the now famous 23rd Congressional district of New York, Palin has demonstrated guts, leadership, political instincts, and a connection with real America that continue to dwarf those traits in almost everyone inside the beltway. Oh, and BTW -- she is a major reason that the now-famous special election of NY 23 is now famous.
All of which makes NY 23 one of three elections next week that will contain significant lessons to be learned for the 2010 midterms.
Significant as the lessons are, however, they are somewhat nuanced -- and if the conservative base and the GOP leadership do not reach the same conclusions from the results, the huge opportunity of 2010 will be impaired, if not wasted.
Along with NY 23, next week brings us governors' races in Virginia and New Jersey. As it stands now, Republican Bob McDonnell should win by a huge margin in Virginia and Republican Chris Christie will run very close to -- and may beat -- Jon Corzine in New Jersey. Hoffman has a real chance to win NY 23. I submit that if McDonnell wins and Christie even comes close, the lessons for 2010 hold.
The Virginia lesson here is simple. This normally red state turned blue for Obama, but now they are trending back red -- as in red-faced embarrassment for buying into "hope and change," and angry red over Obama's "fundamentally changing" the country. McDonnell is up on Creigh Deeds by 10 to 18 points. Deeds and the White House have come just short of conceding already.
To lose, McDonnell would have to be caught on tape lighting a cigarette while handing out bonuses to AIG executives and using racial/gender slurs as he orders a scotch and favors from a 13-year-old ACORN sex slave. Short of that, all Virginians will see on tape are ads showing Obama praising Obama, paid for by the "Deeds for Governor" committee.
The lesson is this: red states like Virginia that turned blue in 2008 are moving back. The Obama-nation is not selling in these parts, and all you have to do in these areas is be a conservative and run like one. Period. That was not much tried in 2008, by the way.
The lessons from Jersey are not that difficult either. First, run as a conservative and you might make history even in this bluest of blue states. Incumbent Jon Corzine, a mega-wealthy Wall Street Democrat, has 25 million more dollars to spend than Christie, and there are 700,000 more registered Democrats than Republicans in New Jersey. Not only that, but there is a third party candidate in the race siphoning voters from Christie as well.
Even against this array of disadvantages, Christie has a 50-50 chance. How? By being a conservative and running against an unabashed liberal. In fact, were it not for the third-party candidate, Christie would be cake-walking to victory. This is a key message for third-party advocates. Go third party and you will end up with more Democrats. Period. The third party in Jersey may end up electing their least favorite choice of Corzine. That is Corzine's only hope. This is a key lesson.
And that brings us to NY 23...where no, this is not a race that disproves the Third Party assumption just made about New Jersey. The race between Doug Hoffman, ultra-liberal Republican Dede Scozzafava, and Democrat Bill Owens is extraordinary for a number of reasons. It's an off-year election in a single district where the "third-party" candidate is actually a Republican who should have been the GOP candidate in the first place.
Doug Hoffman wanted the GOP nomination and likely would have won it in a primary since he clearly is the base's choice. However, the local party tapped Scozzafava instead under somewhat murky circumstances. She is considered liberal even for a Democrat, way left of RINO status.
All of which makes NY 23 a deliciously interesting laboratory opportunity for canny conservative Republicans...you know, like Hoffman and Sarah Palin. But here is the payoff lesson: there are a lot of third-party advocates who are backing Hoffman and who have started to back Palin for President in 2012. Many of these folks are calling NY 23 a war cry in favor of a third party. Perhaps they should heed the words of Hoffman himself when he told Fox News a couple of days ago:
In other words, the third-party candidate Hoffman is referring to Republicans as "we" and calling himself the only true Republican in the race. In his mind, his candidacy is a road map for the Republican Party's success even though he is running outside of it. That is not to disparage third parties per se, but only to point out that Hoffman is not making a third-party statement here.
And the same can be said of his superstar endorser, Sarah Palin. In her endorsement announcement, she said:
Palin went on to quote Ronald Reagan, who said that "blurring the lines" is not the way to rebuild the Republican Party. She too is attempting to rebuild the party by endorsing its defeat in this specific election.
And the same can be said for Dick Armey, Fred Thompson, the Club for Growth, Concerned Women for America, and others who have publicly supported Hoffman. (I would add that Tim Pawlenty showed his leadership mettle as greatly lacking compared to Palin's by coming late to the Hoffman endorsement party.)
So as sexy as a third-party win would be in NY 23, the candidate and his chief supporters refuse to call NY 23 a third-party movement. To them, this is what Reagan called a "revitalized second party" and an invitation for liberal Republicans to "go their own way." The use of Reagan's name by both Hoffman and Palin is not a coincidence here.
And really, this is the lesson of all three races regardless of their outcomes. If Hoffman comes close, or wins against huge odds, as a third party -- and if Christie comes close or wins in far-left Jersey -- and if McDonnell wins big in a state Obama carried a year ago -- the lessons are the same. Republicans will do very well to send their liberal cohorts "their own way" and revitalize the party Reagan-style.
Another lesson is that one of the very first to fully invest in this theory was that hick ex-governor from Alaska. She rolled the dice. She swung for the fence. She thought outside the box, and she took a chance based on her instincts. And guess what? Just like when she resigned her governorship, her decision is coming up aces. Again.
The conservative base is not surprised. Again. But the DC-Manhattan-corridor pundits and party hacks, who are still miffed by her resignation, have no idea what is going on with her endorsement of Hoffman and how it is playing in flyover country. And they will likely misread the tea leaves of all three election results. Again.
The lessons drawn from November 3rd will have a critical influence on the development of the 2010 and 2012 elections. We cannot afford another polite RINO disaster or another Perot Party disaster. Obama and his big government statists are moving way too fast.