New York: Scozzafava Gets GOP Nod in McHugh Special

Posted July 22, 2009 at 6:42pm

Upstate Republicans on Wednesday chose state Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava to be their nominee in the race to replace Rep. John McHugh (R) — which still has no vacancy, special election date or a Democratic nominee.

President Barack Obama wants McHugh to become his secretary of the Army, but no confirmation hearing has been scheduled; until he is confirmed, there is no timetable for a special election. Still, the nomination process for both parties has been under way for weeks.

Democratic leaders hope to know today whether their preferred candidate, state Sen. Darrel Aubertine, plans to enter the race. On Wednesday afternoon, Aubertime spokesman Drew Mangione denied that a decision had been made.

“All rumors we have seen on the blogs are unsubstantiated and grasping at straws,— Mangione told WWTI-TV in Watertown.

While Aubertine deliberated, the National Republican Congressional Committee began an all-out assault on him on Wednesday, accusing him of voting for tax increases attempting to tie him to the ongoing dysfunction in Albany. The NRCC is airing a TV ad, placing robocalls and sending mailers into thousands of 23rd district households.

Meanwhile, a Democrat who wants the nomination, attorney Brian McGrath, released a poll Wednesday that showed more than half of the district’s voters would prefer a fresh face than an Albany insider to replace McHugh in Congress. The poll also showed McGrath, a political unknown, trailing Scozzafava, 44 percent to 30 percent.

The Republican chairmen in the 11 counties within the 23rd district selected Scozzafava Wednesday despite media reports that they would not choose their nominee at their meeting.

Scozzafava has been fending off attacks in recent days, including a report that first surfaced on redstate.com that her brother’s financial services company, where she used to work as chief operating officer, owes almost $200,000 in tax liens.

Scozzafava, a political moderate, is expected to be a strong GOP nominee, but it is very possible that the New York Conservative Party, which usually offers its line to Republican candidates, will select a nominee of its own, complicating the GOP’s efforts to hold McHugh’s seat.