RNC chairman jumps on Hoffman bandwagon

Steele makes the point that he had little choice but to support Dede Scozzafava since she was the nominee of the party. No doubt he is correct. And his embrace of Hoffman at this late date is only Steele bowing to practical politics and the inevitable.

Andy Barr interviewed Steele for Politico:

The actual Republican nominee, Dede Scozzafava, trails Hoffman, the Conservative Party nominee, and Democrat Bill Owens by double-digits according to a recent poll. But Steele argued during an interview with POLITICO that the GOP doesn't need to worry about Scozzafava's lagging ratings because Hoffman is essentially a Republican.

"You've got two Republicans running in that race. My upside is that one of them will likely win," Steele said. "We want to be supporting the one that wins."

"I don't split the party into conservative or not," he said. "I'm looking as the national chairman to walk out of there one way or the other with a win."

Asked if he would support Hoffman in 2010 if the Conservative Party candidate won the special election and sought reelection, Steele responded: "Why wouldn't I?"

"Is he a Republican?" Steele asked. "He's the Conservative Party nominee, but he ran initially as a Republican."

Steele and the RNC, along with Republican House leadership, have so far backed Scozzafava, but grassroots conservatives have revolted against the state assemblywoman, asserting that she is too liberal for them to support. Scozzafava supports abortion rights and gay marriage and has close ties to labor.

I will give Mr. Steele a pass only because he is a clueless git who should have been replaced months ago. It's not his fault he was forced by his position as party chairman to publicly endorse Scozzafava. Party chairman do what they have to do, and Steele's responsibility was clear.

But the same excuse cannot be offered to the Republican National Congressional Committee who enthusiastically backed Scozzafava at the expense of Hoffman's candidacy, pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into a liberal's campaign.

By all reports on the ground, Hoffman still has the momentum. And given that Scozzafava is fading fast, it is likely that Hoffman will pick up the bulk of voters abandoning the party choice and win fairly comfortably - perhaps by 5-7%.

The GOP can claim "victory" all they want in NY23 and it won't change the fact that they backed the wrong horse from the start and that conservatives will have sent a message that they ignore at their own peril.