In 2009, a special election in upstate New York motivated conservatives across the country in a way that many had never seen. A liberal, gaffe prone Republican Assemblywoman was selected behind closed doors and the Conservative Party chose accountant Doug Hoffman as their candidate. He wasn't the most charismatic man in the world, but his convictions made him a conservative icon. He became a symbol for the conservative movement and on a third party line, nearly won the election. In 2010, he's running again and I hope that the Republican Party of New York stays out of his way and lets him run.
Why do I call out the New York State Republican Party? During the 2009 Special Election, they made a bad call and I want to make sure that they do not make the same mistake again, get in Hoffman's way, and ensure that the seat remains in Democratic hands.
First, Hoffman earned a rematch. As a third party candidate, he was competitive and nearly won the seat. He was right about the incumbent, who completely turned his back on the District the moment he was elected. He broke promises fairly quickly and voted for the President's agenda including the recent health care reform legislation. Without that hanging over Owens' head, with the Republican nominee still on the ballot, and with the Republican actively campaigning / endorsing Owens - Hoffman came within a few percent.
Second, the Conservative Party of New York and its members will not back down from Hoffman. Mike Long, the chairman of the CPNYS, loves Hoffman. He's endorsed him and all but guaranteed him the ballot line. Even with a potential primary, Hoffman can and will win the Conservative Party line. Any Republican candidate who is not Hoffman will end up splitting the conservative base because regardless, Hoffman is certain to remain on the ballot as a Conservative. Emboldened by his special election chances, Hoffman is certain to still run even if it's only on the Conservative line. Especially in a year when conservatives will come out in force to vote, you want to make sure that the conservatives are united.
Third, Hoffman is not just a candidate for office. After his special election - Hoffman became a symbol for the conservative every man. He stood up when no others were willing to, to take on the establishment when no one else will. 2010 is the year of the every man and a victory by Hoffman will serve to embolden conservatives nationwide. In a way, Hoffman needs to win. NY-23 is like the conservatives' Alamo and Hoffman was the conservatives' Juan Seguín. Like Seguín, Hoffman was the one who delivered the message to liberals and the Republican establishment that conservatives "...shall never surrender or retreat." We should be proud of him delivering that message.
Finally, Hoffman can win. He nearly did in 2009 and in a better environment with a united conservative front - Hoffman can take down Bill Owens and earn that seat in Congress. There may be other good candidates in that district, but Hoffman is the man who can and, in the end, should do the job.
Let's not divide the conservative movement again. Let's learn from the mistakes of the past. Let's ensure that NY-23 doesn't become the Alamo all over again. Remember NY-23 and let's win it with Hoffman.
EDITED FOR CLARIFICATION 08:41 PM EST
Cross-posted to Old Line Elephant