A third party vote is almost always an idiotic gesture that promotes enemies and punishes allies, but in next Tuesdays elections two strong independent candidates deserve serious consideration. One of them Doug Hoffman in New Yorks 23rd Congressional District could actually win his race and send a powerful message to the GOP and the country. A political party isnt a family, or a church, or an army, so the strategic support of an independent contender with a real chance of victory isnt a betrayal and may offer a common sense means to advance a conservative agenda.
The most recent polling for a special election in this strongly Republican district shows a three way race between the Democratic nominee, Bill Owens, the moderate-liberal Republican nominee, Dede Scozzafava, and the candidate of New Yorks Conservative Party, Hoffman. According to poll numbers and to observers on the district, the Democrat currently enjoys a slight lead (with 35%) over the Republican (at 30%) , but Conservative challenger Hoffman is within striking distance of both of them at 23%. Moreover, all the momentum in fundraising and endorsements seems to be going in Hoffmans direction: I began talking up his campaign two weeks ago on my radio show, and many of my talk radio colleagues have taken up his cause. More significantly, hes won endorsements from an impressive array of national Republican leaders, including Sarah Palin, Steve Forbes, Rick Santorum, Dick Armey, Fred Thompson, and Michelle Bachman, with Minnesota governor Pawlenty on the verge of adding his support.
Its not that Hoffman is an extraordinary or inspirational candidate unfortunately, hes not. But he has unequivocally committed himself to the conservative principles that most Republicans share, while the partys nominee in the district has spent ten years in the legislature, compiling a moderate-to-liberal voting record, including enthusiastic support for gay marriage and abortion rights. If GOP loyalists get the message that she cant win, they will conclude that the only way to deny the seat to the Democrats (and to prevent Obama from gaining an upset win in a district considered solidly Republican) will be to shift support to the Conservative Party contender. This makes sense because Hoffman has promised that if hes elected, he will caucus with the GOP in the House of Representatives (adding one more vote against Nancy Pelosis return as Speaker) and will seek re-election in 2010 on the Republican line.