Thursday, October 01, 2009

What Happens When A Republican Candidate Is More Progressive Than The Democrat?


As you probably know, DWT has been active in fighting against the takeover of the Inside the Beltway part of the Democratic Party by conservative elements-- from corporatists (think DLC) to outright reactionaries (think Blue Dogs). One of the problems in tackling these elements is that invariably their Republican opponents are substantially worse than they are! Republicans running against the most right wing Democrats-- from Chris Carney in Pennsylvania and Dan Boren in Oklahoma to Bobby Bright and Parker Griffith in Alabama-- try attacking them as too liberal! We've often wondered what we would do if we found an actual progressive Republican running against a conservative Democrat. Well, we just did!

A few days ago we looked at the November 3 special election coming up to replace longtime Congressman John McHugh who has been appointed Secretary of the Army. It's a complicated race and we're still trying to sort it out, something that isn't helped by the putative Democrats' reluctance to answer any questions about his positions. So let's start with the most recent news-- polling.

Although the Club for Growth, a dangerous extremist organization that works on the fringes of GOP politics, released a bogus poll last month showing a virtual 3-way tie-- and which was widely reported in the local media as though Club for Growth was a normal good faith player-- a real poll was released today by Siena with a more intuitive result:

Dede Scozzafava (Republican) 35%
Bill Owens (Democrat) 28%
Doug Hoffman (Conservative) 16%

The party labels only tell half the story, Scozzafava is the area's Assemblymember and she has a moderate voting record that clearly makes her the socially liberal candidate. Her voting record is pro-choice and pro-marriage equality. In the past she has been endorsed by the Working Families Party and by local labor unions including the SEIU. Bill Owens is the Democratic Party candidate but-- in a scenario reminiscent of the disastrous Tim Mahoney situation of 2006-- he wasn't even a registered Democrat until after he wound up with the nomination. And his conservative political outlook appears well to the right of Scozzafava's. Owens refuses to tell anyone where he specifically stands on anything, although he was happy enough to come out against marriage equality. Meanwhile, Doug Hoffman is a registered Republican who has staked out the angry teabagger extremist end of the GOP vote for himself and has been endorsed by the Club for Growth and the American Conservative Union (as well as by right-wing Tennessee actor Fred Thompson).

Today's Hill points out that "both Owens and Hoffman are slamming Scozzafava for her votes in Albany, with Hoffman calling her a liberal and Democrats portraying her as another vote against President Barack Obama's agenda, should she head to Washington." My guess is that she's probably more likely to vote for Obama's agenda than Owens is.

UPDATE: Not That Scozzafava Is The Bees' Knees

Her actual voting record shows her to be a mainstream conservative-- not a neo-Con or a teabagger-- but one who votes pro-choice and pro-gay equality. I guess part of what's attractive about her is that my sense of Close-To-The-Vest Owens is that he's going to get into Congress and be another crappy conservative Democrat who votes for a Democratic House organization and then abandons the party when it comes to the more substantive stuff. The DCCC says I'm wrong-- but what else would they say?-- and promises evidence tomorrow. Meanwhile a friend in Upstate NY points out that Scozzafava opposes sane gun control laws, isn't always consumer-friendly when their interests conflict with corporate interests, has a corporate attitude towards the environment and a corporate attitude towards campaign finance reform.

This morning at Daily Kos Robert Harding, best known for his great work at The Albany Project, deconstructs the Scozzafava-as-liberal myth and doubts she'd be even as "good" as Susan Collins. He doesn't say much, though, about how to deal with empowering another conservative Democrat and saddling the Democratic Party with someone who will be pulling the caucus ever more rightward. One more thing about Owens, even though he didn't register as a Democrat until a few weeks ago-- after the DCCC had "sold" him the nomination-- that doesn't mean he wasn't politically active. I found two political contributions from a William Owens in Plattsburgh-- one was to Alfonse D'Amato and the other was to... Alfonse D'Amato.

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At 8:41 PM, Anonymous Dreamer said...

Backing a strong third party/independent progressive candidate or not endorsing at all would seem the best course when dealing with a race that includes a Republican versus a conservative Democrat. It's a pity that voting for an also-ran is so heavily penalised, but I doubt that either major party would ever fix that issue. Frankly I think that would end the Republicans... I digress, as I always do.

The party itself needs to be factored into the mix when determining the viability of an option, as the party leadership and the candidates peers influence their vote, particularly procedural. That isn't enough to make a conservative Democrat a moderate, but it can be enough to make them a slightly better choice.

Still in principle, it's sound. Frankly people should be more interested in the politics than the party, it's just sometimes it always comes down to the lesser of two evils.

At 1:50 AM, Anonymous jacqrat said...

That photo... DYKE ALERT!

At 8:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


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