Monday, 2 November 2009

New York 23 and Republican malaise

Well, well. The rabid ideological rump that is the Republican party has got itself in a complete state in the special election being held in the New York 23 congressional district (hands up if you thought New York 23 was a new HBO cop drama.) Not satisfied with taking down a presidential campaign, Sarah Palin is now doing her best to hand another seat in Congress to Democrats. She is the gift that just keeps on giving.

New York 23 was vacated when John McHugh, the sitting Republican representative, was appointed as Secretary to the Army by President Obama. McHugh won the seat by 65% to 35% last year. The Democrats haven't won there since the civil war.

Sarah Palin and other Republican wannabes like Minnesota's Governor Tim Pawlenty decided in their base-tickling wisdom to back an independent conservative running for the seat, Doug Hoffman, against Democrat challenger, Bill Owens. The official Republican candidate, Dede Scozzafava, was furious and pulled out the race after her poll ratings started to plummet.

And now? Going into the election tomorrow, Bill Owens has a very narrow poll lead. It doesn't end there. Dede Scozzafava has now endorsed, wait for it, Bill Owens. If the Democrats do manage to grab New York 23- even if they slip up in the Virginia (as seems likely) or New Jersey gubernatorial races- this will be a huge blow to Republicans. It won't make a huge difference or even any difference at all in congressional legislative calculations. But it will show that this ideologically pure party is getting close to dysfunctionality. The centre of American politics is shifting to the progressives.

The irony is that this special election was precipitated by President Obama's latest show of bipartisanship. Is that word even in the Republican lexicon?

Post script: And the Democrats win....thanks Sarah, you can come again.


  1. The significance here is really there are limits to what the main US parties will get away with in ignoring their party base.

    We have the same thing with the BNP and Labour now.

    In the end this is good for democracy, unless you think party's and their membership exist solely to provide chearing backdrops for photo ops.

  2. The problem was that the Republicans went for their base and ignored the moderates. So isn't that the opposite of what you suggest?