As goes the New York-23 special congressional election, so goes the direction of the national GOP? Not so fast.
“The national media is making it sound as though there's a civil war between the RINOs and the conservatives, and they're making it seem as though the Republican Party is just completely fractured, and I don’t think that's true,” said Jack P. McGuire, Assistant Professor at SUNY-Potsdam.
Republicans in upstate New York have been overlooked, said McGuire, because of the state party system. New York State has political parties that are stronger than almost anywhere else in the country; instead of holding primaries, the establishment politicos can simply install whoever they like – particularly in a special election.
“They did have some town hall meetings where they would say, ‘Well, who should we have as our nominee?’” said McGuire. “But we know that those things are kind of rigged, generally.”
As a result, Republicans in the 23rd district ended up with Dede Scozzafava, someone with high name recognition but very few conservative credentials.
Republicans in McGuire’s region are “libertarian, secular, Milton Friendman, Ronald Reagan, get-the-government-off-my-back type of Republicans…We would've much preferred a real conservative.”
This split also resulted in the severe fracturing within the larger GOP, with the National Republican Campaign Committee shoveling millions of dollars – and now, campaign volunteers – towards a candidate that has been polling more and more poorly against her Conservative Party counterpart.
Establishment political parties aren’t the only reason for the massive dissonance occurring within the NY-23 race.
“There are a number of trends,” said Harvey Schantz, professor of political science at the State University of New York, Plattsburg. “There is an underlying pro-Democratic trend, then you have the retirement of the incumbent, and then you have the division of the Republican Party vote.”
Schantz says that the general Northeastern gravitation towards liberalism is the reason upstate New York Republicans are a party divided.