Dede Done

Remember a few months ago when the main stream media declared the GOP to be dead? In need of a major revamp? Too conservative to be anything but a party of the south?
A moderate Republican whose candidacy for an upstate New York Congressional seat had set off a storm of opposition from national conservative leaders abruptly withdrew on Saturday, emboldening the party’s right at a time when the Republican Party is enmeshed in a debate over how to rebuild itself after last year’s losses.
Funny how fast things change. Now, the one boat you wouldn't want to have your future depending upon would be little old "Hope & Change," rocking severely and taking on water.
The candidate, Dede Scozzafava, said she was suspending her campaign in the face of collapsing support and evidence that she was heading for a loss in a three-way race on Tuesday involving a conservative candidate, Douglas Hoffman, and a Democrat, Bill Owens. Ms. Scozzafava had been under siege from conservative leaders because she supported gay rights and abortion rights and was considered too liberal on various fiscal issues.
Next week, a Republican will reclaim the the Governor's seat in Virginia, and the GOP might take the special election for Governor in New Jersey. What's even more intriguing, however, is seeing Dede Scozzafava, the Republican nominee in a strongly Republican district in upstate New York, being run out of the race.
The decision by Ms. Scozzafava to suspend her campaign marks a clear victory for conservatives in the party at a time when there has been a pitched battle among party leaders over whether Republicans needed to change their ideological appeal as part of an effort to recover from the losses of 2006 and 2008. Ms. Scozzafava fit the model of candidate who had been advocated by such Republican leaders as Mr. Steele (Michael Steele, head of the national Republican Party) and Senator John Cornyn of Texas: A candidate whose views might not be in keeping with much of the national party, but were more reflective of the district they are trying to win.
The battle has landed right on the nerve of the debate over the future of the GOP - does the party fail because it's too conservative, or because it has abandoned its conservative values in order to play the Democrat's game? Scozzafava wasn't just liberal - she even supported card check, a heinous attempt to dramatically strengthen unions just when the country is starting to get a real sense of the disastrous policy results created by the partnership between the Democrats and organized labor.
Ms. Scozzafava’s withdrawal leaves a clear two-way race between Mr. Hoffman and Mr. Owens. As such, the contest on Tuesday could offer a test of this debate Republican leaders are having: whether it needs to adjust itself ideologically to expand its appeal to places like New York.
While most mainstream Republicans endorsed Scozzafava, including Steele and Newt Gingrich, people like Sarah Palin and Fred Thompson came out for Hoffman. More notably, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, a likely presidential candidate next time around, endorsed Hoffman. Does this upheaval indicate some seismic shift taking place?
A similar primary is unfolding in Florida, where Gov. Charlie Crist, who is running for Senate, is facing a challenge from a conservative, Mark Rubio, the former Florida House speaker. Mr. Crist has come under fire from conservatives for, among other things, supporting Mr. Obama on his economic stimulus package.
Gallup reminded us last week that Americans self-identify as conservative over liberal by a two to one margin, so, on the surface, becoming a party of principles might make some sense. It may be that the anger in the country has to do with the discovery of Obama's big government liberalism, but it also could be that it has nothing to do with ideology. What if voters are just sick of slippery politicians like the President?
Indeed, a Wall Street Journal-NBC News poll released last week found that trust in government is at a 12-year low, and half of all Americans now support the creation of a new political party. Both parties ignore such sentiment at their peril in 2010 and perhaps into the 2012 presidential race.
In the case of the New Yorks 23rd district, the GOP can expect to win the seat with a conservative candidate so throwing Scozzafava out is more of a branding statement than it is a political risk. But the mainstream argument made by folks like Newt isn't without merit:
“This makes life more complicated from the standpoint of this: if we get into a cycle where every-time one side loses they run a third party candidate, we’ll make Pelosi speaker for life and guarantee Obama’s reelection,” said Mr. Gingrich, who had endorsed Ms. Scozzafava.
I'm not sure there's much you could do to assure another term for Obama, but hyperbole aside, Newt's warning is one to be kept in the back of our minds, even as we ignore it.
The percentage of Americans who believe that government is trying to do too much stands at its highest level (57 percent) in many years. Trust in government is near all-time lows, and Americans believe that 50 cents of every federal tax dollar is wasted — the highest level ever. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that unified Democratic government has sparked a conservative counter-mobilization.