Republican Dede Scozzafava had the Congressional race in New York's
23rd district all locked up. Democrat Bill Owens posed no threat and
third-party Doug Hoffman of the Conservative Party was making a mostly
symbolic run. But then the conservative grassroots got involved,
launching a national campaign against a Scozzafava
for her moderate policies and against her GOP backers in the party
establishment. Now Scozzafava is down in the polls and Owens may win
the seat he was never considered a serious chance for. At the vanguard
of the grassroots campaign has been Erick Erickson, blogger and editor
Erickson has made NY23 his
mission. Erickson called
the race "a Hill to Die On" for conservatives. He accused
Scozzafava of "Funnel[ing] Campaign Cash to Family." He slammed
Newt Gingrich, Scozzafava's most high-profile backer, writing, "Today
Newt Gingrich Takes Himself Out of the 2012 Running [...] Gingrich no
longer wants to nor can he be seen as a conservative." Erickson called
for Scozzafava to withdraw and demanded
new national GOP leadership. He even raised money for Hoffman. The wider conservative world took note, and soon endorsements for Hoffman rolled in
from Sarah Palin, the Club for Growth, Steve Forbes, the Wall Street Journal, even sitting Congresswoman Michele Bachmann.
What was a small Congressional race in upstate New York has become
all-out war among Republicans, one which Erickson's
grassroots movement seems to have won. His belief
that it is better for Republicans to lose this race than to adopt a
strategy of electing moderates is quickly becoming orthodoxy.
Republican leadership may be forced to accept Erickson's message that
moderate Republicans will be destroyed and only
strongly conservative candidates tolerated. If they do, Erickson
and his vast grassroots network will have altered the party's electoral
orthodoxy. Whether that would be an
effective strategy is disputed
, but there would be no question of Erickson's influence.
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