The Stupid Party May Learn a Lesson in Upstate New York

Deal W. Hudson
October 22, 2009

A special election will be held on November 3 in upstate New York that may send a much-needed message to the GOP. New York Congressional District 23 was put up for grabs when nine-term Rep. John McHugh, a Republican, resigned to become Secretary of the Army. The eleven Republican chairs of the district nominated Dede Scozzafava, a state assemblywoman, and the first female minority leader pro tempore.

The social conservative wing of the GOP, well into a mounting rage over the direction of the nation under President Barack Obama, wasn’t in the mood to accept a pro-choice, pro-homosexual marriage candidate endorsed by the Working Families Party, known for its close ties to ACORN.

Michele Malkin summarized the reaction to Scozzafava in her column titled, “An ACORN-Friendly, Big-Labor Backing, Tax-and-Spend Radical in GOP Clothes.” Malkin’s comments were all iterations on her opening salvo: “The stupid party is at it again.”

The Conservative Party of New York, a group with considerable clout, decided not to endorse Scozzafava, nominating instead one of the defeated GOP candidates, the staunchly pro-life Doug Hoffman. Since then, Hoffman has become something of a rallying point for social conservatives, appearing on the radio shows of Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, and the red-hot Glen Beck.

Hoffman’s biography reads like a classic American rags-to-riches tale: A humble accountant who served in the U.S. Army Reserves, he unexpectedly became the corporate controller of the 1980 Olympic Games in Lake Placid, and later went on to become the managing partner of his own accounting firm. In addition, his record of community service suggests a man who has come to politics as a second thought, rather than a first.

The GOP is not so split over New York District 23 as it is splintered. Chairman of the House Republican Caucus, Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN), refuses to endorse Scozzafava, while Newt Gingrich and Rep. Peter King (R-NY) have come to her aid. An op-ed in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal framed the controversy this way:

The real issue is why Ms. Scozzafava is a Republican at all. She has voted for so many tax increases that the Democrats are attacking her as a tax raiser. She supported the Obama stimulus, and she favors ‘card check’ to make union organizing easier.

When Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List endorsed Hoffman rather than Scozzafava, she wrote, “It’s gravely disappointing that the Republican Party chose to nominate a candidate whose position flies in the face of the actual pro-life party platform.” She was echoing the views of dozens of social conservative leaders I spoke to yesterday at two separate meetings in Washington, D.C. They were clearly hoping that the Republican Party was going to be taught a lesson about standing up for its core principles and its platform.

Can Hoffman beat both the Republican nominee and the Democratic candidate, Bill Owens? Bill Kristol at the Weekly Standard argued several days ago that the polling is in Hoffman’s favor. It shows that the more voters know Scozzafava, the less they support her. As Kristol comments, “By an amazing margin of 28-12 percent, those who’ve seen Scozzafava’s commercials say those ads make them less likely to support her.”

The Republican establishment is busy trying to prop up a candidate who doesn’t even come close to identifying with traditional GOP values, especially those of its social conservatives. This may well lead to a Democratic victory, but it’s likely that Hoffman will still come out ahead of Scozzafava, sending a clear message that Republican voters want candidates who will fight against the direction of the Obama White House, not play along with it.

Republicans have lost the last two elections in part because they did not do anything to rally the social and religious conservatives who have been decisive in every election victory since 1980. The McCain campaign was the nadir of that lack of effort, so much so that it has become the touchstone of every tactical discussion among social conservatives about how to rally in 2010 and 2012.

Indeed, those social conservatives are mounting major grassroots efforts that are self-described as “outside of the Republican Party.” Perhaps the message is already being sent.

By Deal Hudson

Deal W. Hudson was born November 20, 1949 in Denver, CO, to Emmie and Jack Hudson, both native Texans. Dr. Hudson had an older sister Ruth, and eventually, a younger sister, Elizabeth. Emmie Hudson, Ruth Hudson and Elizabeth Hudson now live in Houston, TX; Jack Hudson passed away some years ago. The late Jack Hudson was a captain for Braniff Airlines in Denver at the time of Dr. Hudson’s birth. Later the family moved to Kansas City when his father joined the Federal Aviation Agency. From Kansas City, the Hudson family moved to Minneapolis, then to Massapequa, NY, and finally to Alexandria, VA, where they first occupied a home overlooking the Potomac River adjacent to the Mount Vernon estate. After a year, the family moved to a home on Tarpon Lane a few houses up the street from the Yacht Haven boat docks. Dr. Hudson attended Mt. Vernon Elementary School from grades 4 to 6 and has a special gratitude for the teaching of Mr. Hoppe who first told him was a ‘smart lad.’ Having moved with his family to Fort Worth, TX in 1960, Dr. Hudson attended William Monnig Junior High and Arlington Heights HS. In high school, Dr. Hudson was captain of the golf team, editor of the literary magazine (Guerdon), and performed the role of Peter in the ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ during his senior year. Dr. Hudson graduated cum laude with a major in philosophy from the University of Texas-Austin in 1971 where his undergraduate advisor was Prof. John Silber. His teachers at the University of Texas included Prof. Louis Mackey and Prof. Larry Caroline. Dr. Hudson minored in both classics and English literature. Dr. Hudson lived in Atlanta from 1974-1989, where he attended Emory University, receiving a Phd from the Graduate Institute for the LIberal Arts. He also taught philosophy at Mercer University in Atlanta from 1980-89. In 1989 Dr. Hudson and his family left Atlanta when he was hired to teach philosophy at Fordham University in the Bronx. Dr. Hudson taught at Fordham, and also part-time at New York University, from 1989 to 1994. Dr. Hudson first came to Atlanta in after graduation from Princeton Theological Seminary (PTS) with an M.Div. While at PTS, Dr. Hudson managed the Baptist Student Union at Princeton University and became its first director. Dr. Hudson also was licensed at a minister in the Southern Baptist Convention at Madison Baptist Church in Madison, NJ. Dr. Hudson’s primary area of study at PTS was the history of Christian doctrine which he pursued with Dr. Karlfried Froelich. In 1984 Dr. Hudson was received in the Catholic Church by Msgr. Richard Lopez, with the special permission of Archbishop Thomas A. Donnellan, at the chapel of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Cancer Home in Atlanta. Dr. Hudson has been married twenty-five years to Theresa Carver Hudson and they have two children, Hannah Clare, 23, and Cyprian Joseph (Chip), 15, adopted from Romania when he was three years old. The Hudson family has lived in Fairfax, VA for more than fifteen years, after having lived five years in Bronxville, NY and a year in Atlanta, GA, where Theresa and Deal were married.

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