One of the big stories of the year is the growth in prominence of the tea party movement. Whether or not you are in accord with them politically, they have had an undeniable impact on the political landscape, bringing a new energy to the political scene. Though tea party- backed candidates have not been 100 percent successful, they have defeated a fairly substantial number of GOP incumbents and other Republican establishment candidates. Even relatively conservative Republican incumbents like Senator Bob Bennett of Utah have been sent to an early retirement thanks largely to a grassroots revolt against his like.
One of the most recent successes of the tea party rebellion occurred in Alaska where Joe Miller defeated Senator Lisa Murkowski in the Republican primary. Murkowski was appointed to the Senate to replace her father. The governor who appointed her also happened to be her father, and it seems that she was led to believe that she is entitled to said seat. So in the face of electoral defeat in the primary, Senator Murkowski – or Daddy’s Little Princess as she’s being dubbed in some circles – has launched a write-in campaign. Evidently many voters in the state of Alaska crave royalty as she is actually running neck and neck with Miller in the general election campaign.
Murkowski is not the only moderate Republican who has demonstrated his or her contempt for the unwashed masses who dared to remove them from office. Governor Charlie Crist, faced with a humiliating primary defeat in Florida against Marco Rubio, decided to jump ship and run as an Independent. Alas Charlie now faces a humiliating thumping in the general election instead. Mike Castle, who lost to Christine O’Donnell in the Republican primary for a Delaware Senate seat, toyed with a write-in campaign. He decided against it, but has ostentatiously declined to endorse O’Donnell. Other defeated incumbents, like Bennett above as well as Representative Bob Inglis have thrown temper tantrums because the voters dared remove them from office.
Alas it is not just so-called RINOs who have rejected the will of the primary voter.Doug Hoffman earned national notoriety a year ago when he ran for a House seat in upstate New York (NY-23). Dede Scozzafava was the Republican party’s nominee for the special election. However, she had not been nominated by a primary open to the voters in the district. Moreover, she proved not to be just a moderate Republican, but in fact was to the left on just about every major issue. Aside from a certain former Speaker of the House who shall remain nameless, Hoffman earned the support of just about the entire conservative movement in his third-party run, including from this humble blogger who even donated money to the cause – something I very rarely do. Scozzafava dropped out, and then confirmed everything Hoffman and the right had said about her by endorsing the Democrat, Bill Owens.
Hoffman wound up losing the general election – one of the few GOP electoral defeats on this particular night. He remained a fixture of the conservative movement, and committed himself to running for the same seat again this year.
The thing is, he lost the primary. By six percent (almost 2,000 votes).
Hoffman already had the endorsement of the conservative party in New York, and unlike Rick Lazio (who also had the conservative party endorsement for Governor, but declined it after losing his primary election), Hoffman has decided not to drop out and will wage yet another third party battle.
RS McCain has come to Hoffman’s defense, but it just doesn’t wash with me.
Hoffman is not a sore loser. As has been previously explained, the Conservative Party of New York decided after the 2009 special election that Hoffman would again be their candidate for 2010. I heard Mike Long say that on Election Night at the Hotel Saranac, as soon as it became evident that Hoffman had lost to Owens. Hoffman had “stepped up,” as Long said, when nobody else was interested in challenging Dede Scozzafava, and the Conservative Party was going to stick with him through thick or thin. Given that kind of steadfast support, and having accepted the Conservative nomination, should Hoffman tell Mike Long, “Thanks, but I’m going to quit now”? No, of course not. To do so would be dishonorable.
It was because of his desire to unify the Republican/Conservative coalition — the only hope for defeating Bill Owens in NY-23 — that Hoffman sought the GOP nomination. When Mike Long issued his May warning that Doheny was not acceptable to the Conservative Party, which was sticking with Hoffman all the way, that was the time for the voices that are now crying “unity” to have spoken up and rallied Republicans behind Hoffman.
And he would have gotten away with it if it weren’t for that darned Matt Doheny.
Excuse me, but Doug Hoffman was entitled to nothing. Matt Doheny is not some uber-villain because he decided to not just let Hoffman have the nomination. Now I would certainly have voted for Hoffman over the pro-abort Doheny, but a non insubstantial majority of the GOP voters in this district felt otherwise.
Again, this wasn’t a back-room deal. This was an open primary, and Hoffman lost. McCain complains about the money that Doheny spent and some of the allegations that were made about Hoffman, but that’s life. You can’t celebrate the populist uprising of the tea party movement in one breath and then discount the popular will as expressed at the voting booth in another. Duped or not, the voters expressed their wishes in a manner contrary to how McCain or I would have voted. Again, that’s life.
As it happens, Doheny has subsequently been embraced by the local tea partiers in his district, and it seems like Hoffman doesn’t have quite the backing he did a year ago in this endeavor. I can’t locate any polling data for the district, but I suspect that Doheny will not be forced to quit a la Scozzafava.
Here’s the thing. Doug Hoffman decided that he would take part in the two-party system. He put himself to the Republican voters in his district, and he lost. He wasn’t edged out of the nomination due to back-room shenanigans. I respect third party candidates, but I have less respect for those who have already put themselves through the two-party process and lost, but decide to defy keep running anyway. This applies to all such candidates, whether they be people I generally like – Hoffman, Joe Lieberman – or despise.
So I just put this question to you. If you think Lisa Murkowski is a sore loser and is acting like a spoiled brat because of her write-in campaign, then how is Doug Hoffman any less of a sore loser by doing the exact same thing? Now if you have no problem with what Murkowski is doing, then this doesn’t really apply to you. But you can’t deride one without also deriding the other.