NY-23: Conservative vs. Republican
The Congressional race in New York’s 23rd District pits a Democrat against a Republican against a Conservative (New York has a Conservative Party), all of whom have polled around 30%. It has been an interesting object lesson in showing how conservatives aren’t automatically Republicans. In a nutshell, through typical back-room arm-twisting, the local GOP nominated a liberal Republican, Dede Scozzafava, which ticked off many in the conservative base, who have thrown their support behind the Conservative party candidate, Doug Hoffman. The race has gained national attention and Republicans have split, with Scozzafava garnering the endorsements of the GOP establishment, Newt Gingrich and the NRA while Hoffman has gained those of Fred Thompson, Sarah Palin and other conservatives. (More background here). Jonah Goldberg offers this concise explanation of what small “c” conservatives are thinking:
I’ve said a million times that I’m a Republican by default because the GOP is the more conservative of the two major parties. If a sensible conservative can beat a liberal Republican than I see no reason to support the Republican out of some team mentality.
William F. Buckley’s policy was always that he was for the most conservative candidate electable. This has always struck me as the most pithy and most sensible statement on these kinds of questions. Protest votes on ideal candidates are ultimately ill-advised and self-indulgent. Though it can be hard to accept the truth of it…. I agree entirely that the GOP needs more moderates. It needs more everybody. But in NY 23 Hoffman can win. That means he’s not a protest vote, he’s a vote for the most conservative candidate electable.
Buckley’s axiom–vote for the most electable conservative candidate–is worth keeping in mind around here.