Scozzafava Bids “Arrivederci,” On to Act V
Conservatives were treated early this Halloween, when liberal Republican Dede Scozzafava threw in the towel for her campaign for Congress, just the latest twist in the Shakespearean drama that has been unfolding in New York this fall.
Usually, this type of theater is saved for even-numbered years, but with the Republicans looking to end their 5-year losing streak, a favorable outcome in this election (along with those in New Jersey and Virginia) could be exactly the shot in the arm the party needs heading into the 2010 midterms.
For those needing to get up to speed, here are the SparkNotes for this race. It all started when President Obama tapped longtime 23rd District Rep. John McHugh (R-NY) to be his Secretary of the Army (Act I). Republicans, in the first shocking move of the drama, nominated Scozzafava, who has supported abortion, gay marriage, card check, and bailouts, among other liberal positions, to replace McHugh (Act II). Democrats countered with Bill Owens, a similarly liberal candidate. Yet in the turning point of the drama (Act III), independant Doug Hoffman, a nobody accountant, threw his hat in the ring. Hoffman, who has no previous political experience, ran on a staunchly conservative platform as a Republican alternative to the liberal Scozzafava. Inexplicably, Hoffman’s grassroots campaign caught on, and won the attention of Beck and Limbaugh and the endorsements of Palin, Pawlenty, and dozens of other famous “actors.” Act IV began with a new poll put out this morning, showing this latter-day Rocky Balboa virtually tied with Democrat Owens just three days before the election, 15 points ahead of Scozzafava.
The once-proud Scozzafava delivered a tearful, on-stage monologue at noon today, suspending her campaign. As the curtain closes on Dede and opens on Act V, a final showdown looms between Owens, the archetypical liberal lawyer, and Hoffman, the little candidate that could. This drama could ultimately be a tragedy, as an Owens victory would give Democrats another vote and spark finger-pointing within the divided Republican party. But with Scozzafava’s pending endorsement of Hoffman, the election is more likely to end up like “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.”
A Hoffman victory would not only be the feel-good, stick-it-to-the-partisans story of the year, but could also prove a rallying point for the conservative movement. A political outsider running on core conservative values and defeating two liberals in a swing district? If it happens, consider conservatism reborn.