Here's the dirty little secret about political candidates and officeholders labeled by the mainstream media as "moderate Republicans": There's usually nothing moderate about them. Consider the case of "moderate Republican" Dede Scozzafava, the GOP nominee in the New York 23rd congressional district's special election.
Handpicked by local party pooh-bahs and supported by Beltway GOP leaders, Scozzafava is vying to replace former GOP Rep. John McHugh, who abandoned his seat to accept President Obama's nomination as Army Secretary. There's certainly no urgency to tack left. The upstate New York district is as safe a Republican district as they come. The GOP has triumphed in every election there since 1871. Obama eked out a victory in the district last fall, but the Democrats have no real traction on the ground.
And the mood of the electorate near and far is far from electric blue. It's not just Tea Party activists and health care town hall protesters displaying discontent with Big Government in Washington. A recent Gallup Poll reported that self-identified conservatives now outnumber self-identified liberals in all 50 states -- and that more Americans nationwide now say they are conservative than have made that claim in any of the last four years.
Scozzafava is an abortion rights advocate who favors gay marriage. It would be one thing if Scozzafava balanced that social liberalism with fiscal conservatism. But as a state assemblywoman, she voted for massive tax increases, Democratic budgets and a $180 million state bank bailout. She also supported the trillion-dollar federal stimulus package -- which every House Republican voted against.
More troubling, Scozzafava in past elections has embraced the ballot line of the Working Families Party -- a socialist outfit whose political DNA is intertwined with scandal-ridden ACORN. ACORN and the WFP have shared office space in New York City, Arkansas and Illinois. ACORN head Bertha Lewis, a close Scozzafava friend and political supporter, wears a second hat as vice chairman of the WFP. The WFP has been listed in ACORN documents dating back to 2000 as an "affiliate."
Under fire for her cozy relations with organizations that have shown lifelong hostility toward the Republican Party, Scozzafava now claims she would have voted to de-fund ACORN in the wake of the multiple BigGovernment.com sting videos showing ACORN employees advising undercover journalists on how to evade tax laws, lie on housing applications and smuggle underage illegal alien prostitutes.
But there's another inextricably linked ACORN and WFP affiliate that Scozzafava would not likely disavow: Big Labor.
Refresher: The Service Employees International Union is co-located with several key ACORN offices across the country. ACORN founder Wade Rathke founded influential SEIU Local 100. As John Wilson reported in the New York Post this spring, the WFP's largest donors are the SEIU, which pitched in more than $300,000, and the teachers union, which donated $200,000. These organizations have worked together to increase left-wing political clout, undermine capitalism and ensure "social justice" on the public's dime.
Scozzafava's husband is a leading upstate New York union organizer. She supports the federal "card-check" legislation that would massively boost union rolls -- and Democratic voting rolls -- at the expense of rank-and-file workers' free choice. And for that matter, at the expense of Republican electoral prospects. Card check is the key to a Democratic majority in perpetuity. Big Labor bosses have said as much.
Movement conservatives and limited government activists are battling the establishment GOP over its endorsement of Scozzafava's candidacy. The Club for Growth, former GOP presidential candidate Fred Thompson and others have lined up behind a truly mainstream and viable candidate -- Conservative Party nominee Doug Hoffman.
Meanwhile, "moderate Republican" Scozzafava has earned the enthusiastic endorsement of far-left blog entrepreneur and political strategist Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, who runs the Daily Kos website. He enthused that Scozzafava has "been willing to raise taxes when budgets require it, and is to the left of most Democrats on social issues."
That's not moderation. That's extremist fringe. This race isn't a fight over the heart and soul of the Republican Party. It's a battle over its brain.