The Spectacle Blog

Scozzafava Redux: Doheny Wrecks GOP Chances in NY-23

By on 9.25.10 | 10:57AM

I reported here in May that New York Conservative Party chairman Mike Long had warned against Matt Doheny's campaign for the GOP congressional nomination in the upstate District 23.

Doheny rebuffed the Conservative Party in the 2009 special election and instead donated the maximum $2,400 to Dede Scozzafava on Oct. 10. Three weeks later -- the weekend before Election Day -- Scozzafava dropped out of the NY-23 race and endorsed Democrat Bill Owens, who edged Conservative candidate Doug Hoffman by fewer than 3,600 votes out of more than 150,000 ballots cast.

Which brings us to the situation for 2010, as I explained in May:

To grasp the problem now facing the GOP in NY-23 requires an understanding of New York's multi-party system. In addition to the Democratic and Republican parties, several other minor parties have ballot lines, and for a major-party candidate to pick up the endorsement of a minor party can be crucial in a close election. Last year in NY-23, for example, there were five parties on the ballot: Owens was on two lines (Democrat and Working Families parties), Scozzafava was on two lines (Republican and Independence) and Hoffman was on the Conservative line. If Hoffman wins the GOP nomination, he'll be on at least two lines, and could win the Independence Party endorsement, as well.
Mike Long has made the argument that no Republican can win NY-23 without the Conservative Party's endorsement, and he is adamant that the endorsement will go to Doug Hoffman this fall. So the question now is: Does the New York GOP wish to repeat last year's disastrous attempt to prove Mike Long wrong?

The answer, apparently, is "yes." Doheny spent $1 million of his own money to get the GOP nomination, prevailing over Hoffman by about 700 votes in the Sept. 14 primary. Doheny will thus likely achieve the same result as he did by supporting Scozzafava last year -- namely, the election of Democrat Bill Owens.

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