Matt Lewis
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As is often the case in life, credit (or blame) is rarely distributed fairly. Such is the case in the battle for NY-23, where national conservatives have rallied around the Conservative candidate for U.S. Congress, Doug Hoffman, much to the chagrin of the Republican-endorsed candidate for Congress, Deidre “Dede” Scozzafava.  But the story of how this came to be has been largely untold.

In terms of rallying support for the Conservative, the straw that broke the camel's back was the Club for Growth's endorsement of Hoffman.  This was rightly judged to be huge news, inasmuch as The Club's involvement injects the resources needed to create a viable third-party candidacy. 

It should be noted that establishment Republicans hoped a Republican victory in this special election would demonstrate momentum going into the 2010 off-year elections.  The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) and top Republican Congressional leaders view Hoffman as merely a "spoiler" who will ensure the Democrat is elected. They, of course, would prefer conservatives to line up behind the liberal Republican.

Regardless, Scozzafava is clearly a liberal and -- over the last several weeks -- national conservatives began backing Hoffman in earnest.  The culmination of this phenomenon was the Club for Growth's endorsement, which, based on the immediate chatter on conservative blogs, served as a tipping point for conservative thought regarding NY-23.
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But while the final straw which breaks the camel's back gets the most attention, one should not discount the first straw, either.  The untold story of how this all came to be demonstrates that support for political candidates is usually the product of slow growth -- often pushed by unsung individuals.

Months ago, at a prominent conservative conclave, a senior conservative movement leader suggested conservative activists should reject the Republican candidate.  This made sense because the Republican candidate is more liberal than most Democrats. 

But it was the Concerned Women of America's PAC (CWPAC) which first made the plunge and endorsed Hoffman.  This occurred weeks prior to recent spate of Hoffman endorsements, and likely provided Hoffman with the credibility and momentum he needed to become what he is today -- a viable candidate for Congress. 

Nothing just happens in politics; After endorsing Hoffman, Mike Mears, the Executive Director of CWPAC assiduously pounded the phones and attended conservative meetings, announcing the endorsement with the hopes it would inspire other conservative groups to support Hoffman.  For weeks, his efforts seemed fruitless.

For a time, CWPAC essentially stood alone against the Republican establishment.  The move was risky -- perhaps too risky for other groups to join.  Hoffman, after all, could doom chances for Republicans to maintain this seat -- and conservatives would be blamed

But it worked.  Aside from the aforementioned Club for Growth, several other conservative groups endorsed also Hoffman in recent weeks -- and conservative blogs have lined up against the GOP establishment's candidate. 

Many of the subsequent articles on this race have failed to mention CWPAC, or the role they played in helping make Hoffman a viable candidate.  This is unfortunate.

To be sure, they are not yet a powerhouse when it comes to supporting candidates financially -- but they are demonstrating themselves to be something equally as impressive -- a bellwether.
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Matt Lewis

Matt Lewis is conservative writer and blogger based in Alexandria, VA.

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