Look for national conservatives to begin amping up pressure on New York State Republicans who placed Dede Scozzafava, a moderate, on the ballot to fill the seat of Rep. John McHugh, the Obama Administration's pick for Secretary of the Army. Democrats have put Bill Owens on the ballot, and both candidates are awaiting Governor David Paterson's decision on a special election date.
The wild card, however is Doug Hoffman, who was spurned by the Republican establishment and is now running for the McHugh seat on the Conservative Party line. "He's the rock star of this race if things break right," says a longtime political activist in New York. "The state Republican Party and the NRCC [National Republican Congressional Committee] need to learn that conservatives aren't just going to let them screw up a good opportunity. We have to save them from themselves."
Hoffman is expecting at least two major endorsements early this week, perhaps as early as Monday, from well-known, national conservative leaders. "McHugh's district is not a slam dunk for Democrats and Republicans shouldn't be afraid of running conservatives who have some clear principles," says a pollster who is familiar with the NY-23 district. "If the GOP had run a conservative here, it would have been an interesting bellwether."
Scozzafava is a ten-year state legislator and served as the whip for the minority Republican assembly; she is viewed inside the party as a moderate who is pro-choice and supports same-sex marriage. She was selected to run by Republican Party county chairs located in the 23rd Congressional district. In previous elections, her name appeared on multiple ballot lines including the progressive Working Families Party, which has extensive ties to the national ACORN operation, among other radical groups.
Hoffman is a CPA from Lake Placid, who has been active in the community going back to his time working on the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics. Some state political observers believe that if Hoffman can press ahead, particularly in fundraising, there is enough time for party officials to dump Scozzafava so that the ballot isn't split between the GOP and the Conservative Party.
Scozzafava has begun surrounding herself with long time GOP and RNC establishment types, many with ties to the failed McCain campaign, including spokesman Matt Burns, who assisted in running the press operation for the RNC and for McCain in 2008.
Several lawyers currently working for the Department of Justice in political appointee positions have been offering advice to ACORN in the organization's attempts to regain its footing after the media storm surrounding its employees' unethical behavior caught on film.
According to Department of Justice sources, these attorneys did work for ACORN in pro bono capacities prior to accepting jobs in the Civil and the Civil Rights Divisions of the department after the Obama election in 2008.
"It's not against department rules to be helping friends, but it presents a conflict of interest, particularly since several state and local governments are opening investigations into ACORN state organizations," says one DOJ source.
But ACORN apparently wasn't listening to all of the advice it was getting. Last week, the ACORN office in Baltimore filed suit against the young filmmakers who went undercover into ACORN offices posing as a pimp and a prostitute. The only problem: Baltimore's ACORN office is not an independent entity. Instead, it is operated by the national ACORN organization, and some legal observers now believe the lawsuit opens up the entire national organization to discovery by the legal team for the young defendants, something even Congressional investigators haven't been able to do for the past 10 years.
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