On the eve of two gubernatorial elections that have attracted national attention as possible barometers of the current popularity of the Obama Administration and the potential gains that Republicans might make in the all-important 2010 congressional elections, the special November 3, 2009, congressional election in upstate New York’s 23d District has suddenly burst on the scene and, in regard to the public’s interest, to some extent has eclipsed the New Jersey and Virginia Governors’ races. Liberal commentators and others have taken to the airwaves, as well as the print media, and the internet, in full force.
For example, a blog by Linda Hirshman in the DAILY BEAST (“How the GOP Loses Women”, Nov. 1, 2009) wrote:
“Former Republican congressional candidate Dede Scozzafava cried real tears Saturday as she conceded that right-wingers had pushed her out of the race. Even though her local party had picked her to run in Tuesday’s election…her support for abortion and gay marriage made her too liberal for the new national party. Insurgent Republicans, led by Sarah Palin and Glen Beck, mounted a candidate on the conservative line, and fought Scozzafava so effectively that she turned tail and ran. She then endorsed the Democrat.”
In another November 1 article in THE POLITICO (“Fiasco, N.Y. Republicans deliver again”) Alexander Burns states: “The collapse of Scozzafava’s campaign…is simply the latest calamity to befall the New York GOP and an illustration of the utter ruin into which the state party has fallen.” Burns correctly points out that Republicans now control just two of New York’s 29 congressional House seats, lacks a single statewide elected official, and represents “only a minority of both chambers of the state legislature – the first time since the New Deal that New York has had a Democratic governor and legislature.”
The results of all of the November 3d elections deserve a close look by those of us who wish to see a resurgence of the Republican Party nationally. However, before the dust settles after those contests have been decided, a short analysis should be made of how the New York Republican Party could handpick a congressional candidate whose views are so foreign to the views of rank- and- file Republicans in the 23d District.
It is true that the New York Republican Party has recently suffered defeat after defeat despite numerous scandals within the Democratic ranks (Governor Eliot Spitzer resigned after being implicated in a prostitution scandal; and his successor, David Patterson, promptly admitted to a history of extramarital affairs and drug use). Some say that the New York Party is a victim of being located in a region that has recoiled from George W. Bush and a conservative national party. However, I would offer a different view, based on many personal observations and recent conversations with a group of New York Republican Party leaders who were seeking advice on how to revitalize their organization. In these conversations, I was astonished to discover that in 2008, the New York Republican Party had only three (3) full-time employees and an annual budget of less than $500,000. During my tenure as Chairman of the Mississippi Republican Party, Mississippi had seven (7) full-time employees and an annual budget of over $1,500,000. The Florida Republican Party had over 60 full-time employees during the same period and an annual budget that dwarfed the budgets of New York and Mississippi combined.
These simple facts explain, loud and clear, what is wrong with the New York Party. It has no realistic party organization that listens to the people and can no longer provide a realistic support group for its candidates. Instead, it obviously relies on party bosses to select its candidates, rather than building the party from the ground up (which is when candidates APPEAR, rather than being chosen by the bosses).
When the New York Republican Party reforms itself and begins to raise real money for Party organization and its activities, Republicans will begin to win races once again. The good news is that this can happen rather quickly whenever the leaders of the Party become tired of losing and get serious.
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