Friday, October 23, 2009

Doug Hoffman -- Wave of the Future?

From time to time, we at Kaw & Border like to talk about races in other parts of the country, particularly when the implications of such a race have a profound impact on the political makeup of the nation, and could have long term impact.

This is the case in the 23rd Congressional District of New York, which has been the subject of the the national political buzz this week.

In this race, we have a very liberal Republican -- Dierdre Scozzafava, who has gotten the support of the national Republican party yet holds positions that are well to the left of most Republicans, and is a classic RINO; a liberal Democrat, Bill Owens; and the New York Conservative Party nominee, Doug Hoffman.

What's making this race interesting is that Hoffman has gotten the endorsement of the Club for Growth, Fred Thompson, and now, Sarah Palin. Polls show Hoffman closing in on both the Republican and the Democrat, and there is some indication he has passed Scozzafava.

If he would win in the end -- which is a strong possibility -- it would deal a signficant blow to the national Republican establishment, who increasingly seems to care nothing about what a candidates beliefs are, but simply about whether there is an R in front of that person's name.

A couple of posts ago, we talked about how nominating a moderate Republican is perfectly acceptable in certain situations -- such as STATEWIDE Senate races in Illinois, Delaware, and yes, even New York. But even in New York, where at least Pataki and Guiliani have a strong basis for their Republicanism, we can do better than an open RINO in a right-of-center district like the 23rd, where a conservative can win if given the backing.

It makes no sense to us that in 2010 -- the cycle of the tea parties, town halls, etc..where it is a good thing to be a conservative for once, versus a regular Republican, that the party would nominate people like Scozzafava. Unfortunately, that's just what they did, just like they got behind Crist in Florida, another place a conservative can do well.

If indeed Hoffman is successful -- which we believe is likely given the introduction of Palin, who we feel is a significant political force -- then it could have ramfications for races nationwide, and for the future of the Republican Party in general.

Of course, we have to be cognizant of the fact that New York is unique in that the Conservative Party has strength there. However, it has not successfullly ran candidates for Congress, so this would be a significant upset.

That said, given the recent polls which indicate that now just 20% of Americans identify themselves as Republicans -- which clearly shows that even a lot of Republicans really are just registered that way, but are more and more calling themselves conservatives instead -- a Hoffman victory could be the seed for a real movement towards a third "conservative" party, if the Republican Party doesn't get their act together quickly.

We believe that a "third party" movement for conservatives is less likely to happen in conservative states like in the south, but more likely to happen in states where moderates are the favorite of the party establishment. The key for any "conservative party" to succeed would be to get signficant backing from national figures consistently, such as Fred Thompson or Sarah Palin. That said, we don't feel either will ever get directly involved in third party in such a formal way, but perhaps get increasingly involved in primaries.

And in the end, this is where we believe the focus of conservatives should be. Tea Party folks and traditional conservatives alike should think twice before going down the third party road -- but rather, aggressively seek to DEFINE the term Republican to mean the core values of protecting life, limited government, lower taxes, economic freedom, and individual liberty.

However, what the Hoffman situation -- as well as the Joe Wilson situation in South Carolina -- shows is that the conservative grassroots has the ability to have an incredible impact when they direct their resources to a particular candidate. Joe Wilson raised $2.6 million in just a few weeks. If conservative underdog candidates -- such as Lightner in the 3rd District of Kansas and Turk in the 5th District of Missouri (both seats that the "Republican establishment" have written off) -- were to earn similar support, seats nationwide that were previously seen as safe for Democrats would soon become in play.

Likewise, it is going to be increasingly difficult - and this is also a good thing -- for RINOs to run in primaries if a conservative candidate gets the kind of backing they need by the Wilson/Hoffman effect. We're starting to see this with Chuck DeVore's campaign in California, for instance, who is running against RINO Carly Fiorina. We're seeing it in Florida, where Marco Rubio raised $1 million in the 3rd Quarter against RINO Charlie Christ.

The reason for this new reality of American politics is the internet and social networking sites like Facebook. A simple Sarah Palin Facebook post to her 900K+ supporters can fund a candidate alone. Fred Thompson, Mark Levin, Mike Huckabee, etc...along with groups like Club for Growth, have huge followings on Facebook and can in a few keystrokes direct their troops to support candidates around the country that meet their approval.

Liberals, of course, have done this for years. We saw this is in 2008 right here in our own backyard, when Sean Tevis raised more than $100K against Arlen Siegfreid. He lost, but the race was quite competitive as a result.

Of course, this isn't to say that anyone can win. You still have to have the right kind of profile, experience, and strategy to win or even get that kind of financial grassroots support anyway. That said, if through SarahPAC, FredPAC and other PAC's/Facebook pages/email lists, conservatives start to employ this similar strategy, the days of the establishment in any particular race controlling who runs are over.

Moreover, it is our belief that those in the establishment might want to stop shunning conservatives. While we may not be your favorite guest at your next wine and cheese party, we are where the country is leaning now. Yes, it's okay to be a fiscal conservative. Yes, it's okay to be a social conservative. People simply don't want a zealot -- they want someone principled, driven to run for office because they believe in something.

This is a good thing, in the end. Candidates will no longer be afraid to say they are a conservative. Inside party politics will become less and less important, and those in office will increasingly be held responsible.

So, if you're a candidate for office reading this blog -- don't be afraid to stand up for what you believe. Don't think you have to go the old way and get permission from the party bosses in order to run. Go around them. It's hard work, but the way to win in 2010 is through the grassroots, through standing up for what you believe, and doing so in a confident way.

If you do that, you're eventually going to get noticed, and you'll get the support you need. So be strong, campaign hard, and you might be the next Doug Hoffman.