UPDATE, 3:33p: Breaking per RedState.com: “Scozzafava possibly mulling party switch.” What a slap to the NRCC that would be. Wonder what Newt is thinking.
[HT: moderator Carder]
UPDATE, 9:50a: Erick Erickson at RedState.com writes today about Newt’s endorsement of Scozzafava, “Today Newt Gingrich takes himself out of the 2012 running.”
[HT: Matt Lewis]
Every election season the Republican establishment angers pro-lifers by supporting pro-abort candidates. While this year is no different, enter the tea partiers, who are boisterously organized in every state.
tea party people.jpgWe often chatter about organizing a 3rd party. Apparently we have without really planning it. We now have the Republican Party, Democrat Party, and Tea Party.
I cannot believe the GOP establishment still doesn’t get it. Social conservatism cannot be ignored while touting fiscal conservatism. If the 3-way race in NY causes the Democrat to win, it will be the Republican Party’s fault for touting a pro-abort candidate who is simply a liberal in all areas. It didn’t have to be this way. When will they learn?…

Bravo to Huckabee, DeMint, Rove, and Thompson for bucking the NRCC, btw. It seems to me this sort of defection by such major names is a new development. From the Washington Times, today (and also read the Wall Street Journal piece):

Republican officials turned to a conservative icon and invoked an anti-tax pledge Thursday to salvage the slumping campaign of a NY congressional candidate competing with a more conservative 3rd-party challenger, part of an ongoing battle between the fiscally hawkish “tea party” movement and the Republican establishment.

Dede Scozzafava.jpg

The National Republican Congressional Committee secured an endorsement from former House Speaker Newt Gingrich for the party’s nominee, Dede Scozzafava, and got her to sign a “taxpayer protection” pledge to fortify her conservative credentials after polls showed her losing ground to Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman.
The Republican Party is desperately trying to hold on to the seat vacated by John McHugh, a 9-term Republican incumbent who resigned when he was selected by President Obama to be secretary of the Army….

“The special election for the 23rd Congressional District is an important test leading up to the mid-term 2010 elections,” Mr. Gingrich wrote in an endorsement letter. “Our best chance to put responsible and principled leaders in Washington starts here, with Dede Scozzafava.”…
A new… poll… found Democrat Bill Owens, a Plattsburgh lawyer and political neophyte, leading the race for the first time, 4% ahead of Mrs. Scozzafava and 10% ahead of Mr. Hoffman in the tightening 3-way contest….
Some rank-and-file House Republicans privately say they have written off Mrs. Scozzafava’s chances in the Nov. 3 special election.
The members say she is a weak candidate who can’t rally the district’s conservative voters, echoing complaints of Republican-allied activist groups who complain that the pro-choice Mrs. Scozzafava is more liberal even than her Democratic opponent.
Mr. Hoffman is tapping the anger of the tea party activists – the movement that gained national attention this summer with protests against runaway government spending and debt – by casting doubt over the conservative credentials of the pro-choice Mrs. Scozzafava, who supported Mr. Obama’s $787 billion economic stimulus.
The poll results indicate that his strategy is working. The Siena survey showed him with 23% of the vote, a gain of 7 points in just two weeks, while she fell 6 points to 29% . Mr. Owens’s support rose 4 points to 33%.
“With just 10 points separating the 3 candidates, this is likely to be a very tight – and fiercely fought – campaign right through Election Day,” predicted Siena pollster Steven Greenberg.
If current trends hold, Mrs. Scozzafava and Mr. Hoffman could split the Republican and Conservative vote and hand the election to Mr. Owens – in a district where Mr. McHugh won 65% of the vote just two years ago.
The dynamic of an establishment-endorsed Republican candidate facing an insurgent attack from the right is playing out in other states as well.
FL Gov. Charlie Crist has the backing of the NRCC in his run for the open Senate seat in 2010, but former state House Speaker Marco Rubio has stayed in the primary race and won support from such prominent conservatives as former AR Gov. Mike Huckabee, Sen. Jim DeMint of SC and political strategist Karl Rove.
In PA, Sen. Arlen Specter earlier this year defected to the Democrats in the face of a strong Republican primary challenge from conservative former Rep. Pat Toomey, a Republican and former head of the anti-tax Club for Growth, which is backing his run.
The same players are flocking to Mr. Hoffman, a businessman with no political experience. The Club for Growth is pouring $250k into his campaign and a pair of one-time Republican presidential hopefuls, Mr. Huckabee and former Sen. Fred Thompson of TN, have announced their support.
I think it’s a combination of people seeing what the 2 major-party candidates are all about and what they’re seeing is business as usual in Washington,” Hoffman campaign spokesman Rob Ryan said. “The voters are tired of that and I think that’s why you have a 3rd-party candidate right in the middle of this battle making it into a horse race.“…
Rep. Pete Sessions, chairman of the NRCC, predicted Mrs. Scozzafava will woo back conservative voters with Mr. Gingrich’s endorsement and by signing a no-tax pledge from Americans for Tax Reform, a group that had criticized Mrs. Scozzafava for not signing….
Mr. Sessions pointed out that Mr. Hoffman initially pursued the Republican nomination before accepting the state Conservative Party nod.
“We selected the best candidate,” he said. “[Mr. Hoffman] just did not show as well. He did not have the best ideas, and Dede’s ahead.”
Still, one House Republican following the race expressed concern that Mrs. Scozzafava is not running on both the Republican and Conservative Party lines, as Republican nominees have done in the past.
“The conservative line means something in NY and it is troubling when the Republican nominee can’t get the conservative line,” said the lawmaker, who asked not to be identified because he did not “want to be in the middle of it.”…

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