Feb. 13, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

New York 23: Another Train Wreck for House Republicans?

While Republican prospects for the 2010 Congressional elections are improving and the GOP is likely to win at least one, and quite possibly both, of this year’s gubernatorial elections, the special election to fill an open seat in New York’s 23rd district is trending the other way.

A lack of campaign resources and a classic political squeeze from the left and the right have severely damaged the prospects of Republican Dede Scozzafava, a six-term state Assemblywoman from Watertown.

While initial polling showed Scozzafava leading Democratic attorney Bill Owens and Conservative Party nominee Doug Hoffman, Owens has caught Scozzafava in recent private polling, and Hoffman continues to gain strength, making him a considerable factor in the contest and a growing problem for Scozzafava down the stretch.

GOP insiders have grown extremely nervous about the race. They worry about Scozzafava’s poor fundraising, lack of a compelling message to Republican base voters and weak showing in polling in the crucial Syracuse media market, which makes up about 30 percent of the sprawling district.

“She needs a solid win in the Syracuse area, and she isn’t getting anything close to that,” one veteran dispassionate analyst from the area said. “And she is having problems raising money from Republicans, who point to her support for ‘card check’ and President [Barack] Obama’s stimulus package and say that she isn’t a real Republican.” Not a single House Republican voted for the stimulus bill.

Heavy TV advertising by the Club for Growth, which is backing Hoffman, in all three major media markets has peeled conservative voters away from the Republican, and GOP insiders worry that the bleeding will continue. Hoffman is also on TV, portraying Scozzafava as a “fake” Republican and a liberal Albany politician.

So far, conservative critics of Scozzafava have complained primarily about her record on taxes and spending, but some expect that her liberal positions on social issues, including abortion and gay marriage (which is mentioned in Hoffman’s spot), will soon become more of an issue. Both Scozzafava and Owens favor abortion rights, while Hoffman does not.

However, the Republican just received the endorsement from the National Rifle Association, and it could be important in fashioning her appeal to right-leaning voters in the district.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has slammed the Assemblywoman as a “typical Albany politician” in TV ads that charge that she supported tax breaks that her company benefited from “while raising taxes on you.”

While the National Republican Congressional Committee is advertising heavily for Scozzafava and doing everything it can to help her, the combined advertising of the DCCC, the Owens campaign and the Club for Growth has been overwhelming the Republican nominee. Scozzafava is now finally on the air in the Syracuse market, but she is simply not carrying her weight on TV.

“If Dede doesn’t raise money and get on TV, there is only one direction for her to go, and it’s down,” a thoughtful Republican said.

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