New York: Owens Gets Second Ballot Line in Special

Posted October 9, 2009 at 5:48pm

Attorney Bill Owens (D) last week scored the endorsement of the labor-backed Working Families Party in the race to succeed former Rep. John McHugh (R), who recently became secretary of the Army.

The nod means Owens will be running on the WFP line as well as the Democratic Party line in the Nov. 3 special election.

The endorsement could be a win-win for Owens and Republican rival Dede Scozzafava.

It will provide a boost for Owens, particularly from an organizational standpoint. And the get-out-the-vote operations that labor excels at will be important in a low-turnout special election.

For Scozzafava, not getting the WFP nod — and thereby distancing her from what tends to be a major Democratic constituency — also could be a benefit. Scozzafava has been battered by conservatives for her moderate record in the New York Assembly and for her past endorsements by the more liberal WFP.

Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) on Friday announced his endorsement of Scozzafava, who is seeking to reassure and build support among the conservative base of the party.

“I am supporting Dede Scozzafava in her campaign for Congress,— Hensarling said in a statement.“I am backing the only Republican in this race who can win and don’t want to lose this seat to Nancy Pelosi for a generation.—

While in most cases a candidate endorsement from a Member of the same party would hardly constitute news, Hensarling’s support of Scozzafava is important because she is seeking to build conservative support for her campaign. Hensarling is a former chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee.

Scozzafava faces Owens and Conservative Party nominee Doug Hoffman in the Nov. 3 election.

Hoffman has the backing of the anti-tax group Club for Growth, which has spent more than $250,000 on TV ads on his behalf, as well as other prominent conservative figures and groups.

As of Friday, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee had spent $256,000 in independent expenditures on the race. The National Republican Congressional Committee had spent $444,000.