Four races for optimistic conservatives to watch nationally: The most interesting of the lot has to be New York’s 23rd Congressional District, a special election that has the White House and an assortment of name Republicans vying in a high-stakes battle that both sides hope will define 2010.
At stake is one currently-Republican seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. One minority-party seat is unimportant — except that Republicans alienated conservatives by nominating a candidate, Dede Scozzafava, from the party’s Arlen Specter wing. Republicans hold only 3 of 29 House seats in New York, a number that has been shrinking in the past couple of decades. The Republican incumbent, Rep. John McHugh, was sworn in last month as President Obama’s Secretary of the Army.
In the 23rd district, conservatives prefer Conservative candidate Doug Hoffman to such an extent that Scozzafava concluded that she couldn’t win. So she dropped out, but as a stink-bomb present for conservative Republicans, she capitulated to White House wooing and endorsed Democrat Bill Owens. Polls give Hoffman a slight lead over Owens, but Vice President Joe Biden travelling to upstate New York Monday in hopes of driving a wedge between conservative and moderate Republicans. Said Biden in urging Scozzafava supporters to vote for Owens:
“We’re not asking you to switch parties. We’re just saying ‘join us in teaching a lesson to absolutists who come and tell us that no dissent is permitted within their own party.’” This is, of course, the Vice President nominated by the party of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, a party filled with full, open and honest debate on the merits of legislation to radically alter the national health care system and an assortment of other revolutionary proposals.
In any event, New York’s 23rd is one to watch. If conservatives pull that one off in New York State, it’ll send a strong message to Congress that the country’s not buying the leadership’s radical agenda.
Other races to watch are gubernatorial contests in New Jersey and Virginia. Both should be Democratic wins, but Republican upsets — very likely in Virginia — would, likewise, fire up Republican efforts to recruit strong candidates in 2010.
The other race to watch, of course, is here in Atlanta where Democrats are choosing among themselves who should lead the city for the next four years. In a truly bizarre twist, State Democrats who presume to represent the interests of the party from Rabun Gap to the Folkston swamps chose to intervene to declare one of the Democrats in a local election to be not their kind. Strange stuff for a state party.