Three-Way in NY's 23rd CD

As expected, New York Governor David Patterson has called a special election for Tuesday, November 3rd, to fill the congressional seat vacated by Republican John McHugh, who was confirmed by the Senate as Secretary of the Army last week. The Green Papers relay the executive's press release. The race is shaping up to be a close three-way contest between Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman, Republican Dede Scozzafava, and Democratic candidate Bill Owens. Recent polls put them in a statistical tie. In the last month, Hoffman has received a fair amount of positive press and a number of endorsements from prominent conservative publications and groups. Since last week, he has received endorsements from former Senator and radio talk show host Fred Thompson, the Club for Growth, the American Conservative Union and the Susan B. Anthony List Candidate Fund.

Media coverage of the race provides us with some fine examples of duopolist bias in the political press. At The Hill, Reid Wilson, for instance, reports that "Republican worry over McHugh seat builds," but proves incapable of liberating himself from the trappings of duopoly ideology. He writes:
Republicans are dismayed by a third-party candidate who could sap their candidate to fill Army Secretary John McHugh's old House seat, effectively handing a win to Democrats.
This, of course, is nothing but the old third party spoiler argument, with which Republicans, in the case of a loss to the Democrat, clearly seek to create a narrative which absolves them of any responsibility for that loss while robbing the Democrat of any responsibility for his win. The Republican Party candidate is arguably the most liberal of the group, which is why conservatives are flocking to Hoffman. And this leaves liberal Democrats in a bind. At Daily Kos, Kos himself has noted that "the Republican appears to be the most palatable option." Do they support the liberal Republican Scozzafava, or the conservative Democrat Owens? Are they liberals first or Democrats first? The Republican and Democratic candidates may well split the liberal and moderate vote, handing a win to the conservative third party candidate Doug Hoffman.


Samuel Wilson said...

A Siena College poll cited today on the local evening news put Hoffman's support at 18%, while the reporter cited him as a significant factor in the race. Your list of his endorsers doesn't exactly inspire me, but that was a Republican seat already so it's no loss to anyone left of the GOP if the Conservative wins. In fact, cynical Democrats might think about supporting Hoffman because a win by him would give the Conservatives a degree of viability that might cause Republicans trouble in the future.

d.eris said...

And yet another poll, I forget by whom, has him trailing Scozzafava and Owens by significant margins.

To me the most interesting thing about Hoffman's list of endorsers is that they are thought of as staunch, partisan Republicans. But in this case, they are showing a fair amount of independence. Perhaps this is indeed only "the exception that proves the rule" as one duopolist put it when making his case for Hoffman. And if he wins, it is highly likely that he would just be endorsed by the GOP in the next cycle.