The House seat for New York’s 23rd district opened up when John McHugh (R-NY) left to join the Obama administration. The Republicans and Democrats have each put forth a candidate for the upcoming special election, but in independent running as a Conservative is splitting the Republican vote.
The Democrat is Bill Owens; Dede Scozzafava is the Republican; and the third party entrant is Doug Hoffman.
One poll detailed in a 10/23/09 had the vote split 35% for Owens; 30% for Scozzafava and 23% for Hoffman. Another had similar numbers: 33% for Owens; 29% for Scozzafava and 23% for Hoffman.
The most recent contribution tallies, as of mid-October, gave the lead to Owens with $491K. Besides probably splitting the Republican vote, the two other candidates seem to be splitting the available cash: Scozzarfava was said to be ahead of Hoffman in contributions, $234K to $205K, according to The Hill. In terms of cash on hand as of 10/14/09, it was Owens $125K; Hoffman $73K; and Scozzafava $41K.
In the meantime, Hoffman is said to have pumped in another $100K of his own money and had a hot $200K internet fund-raising haul since the last report.
However, Hoffman lacks the support of a traditional national party. The other two do not. Owens has had independent support from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee exceeding $500K, and Scozzafava has picked up almost $600K in independent support from the National Republican Congressional Committee, according to CQ Politics.
What has to give Republicans pause is the schism the campaign has revealed among its established members and traditional supporters. According to political blog Talkingpointsmemo.com, Scozzafava has picked up support from Republican congressional leaders, including Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA), NRCC chairman Pete Sessions (R-TX), 2010 candidate recruiter Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), and Peter King (R-NY). Newt Gingrich and the NRA are also in her camp.
Michelle Bachman (R-MN) has endorsed Hoffman, along with many other former elected officials or candidates, including Steve Forbes, Rick Santorum, Dick Armey and Ken Blackwell. Groups and newspapers have also backed Forbes, including The Club For Growth, The Washington Times, The Wall Street Journal and National Review.
RBR-TVBR observation: This race demonstrates the value of being a battleground. With little else on the election calendar, it gives national organizations with political leanings something to spend their money on.
It also demonstrates the trouble that the Republican Party is in right now. It won’t matter in red districts so much, but in they are unable to achieve unity in purple battlegrounds, whether they be districts or entire states, they will have a hard time making much of a dent in the Democrats’ hold on Congress.
This race is 53% Republican, 35% Democrat – if only the field was limited to one Republican candidate.