The Republican committees of 11 counties made their choice Wednesday. Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava of Gouverneur, who represents three northern towns of Oswego County, will be their pick to try to keep the 23rd Congressional District seat held by John McHugh.
McHugh will leave as soon as the Senate confirms him to become President Obama’s Secretary of the Army.
Scozzafava said she was honored to be chosen. “What better time to talk about fiscal conservatism, to talk about lower taxes, to talk about curbing in spending, to talk about putting policies in place that will move the economy forward,” she told Watertown’s 7News.
It took three ballots for Republican chairs, meeting at a restaurant in Potsdam, to make up their minds. Some counties prefered Matthew Doheny, an investment banker from Alexandria Bay who had little name recognition but plenty of money to wage a battle. Doheny congratulated Scozzafava afterwards. “It is important for the party and our communities across the district that we keep this Congressional seat in Republican hands. I plan on working hard for DeDe to do just that,” he said in a statement.
“I congratulate Dede Scozzafava for receiving the nomination to represent our party and make the case for tax relief, economic development and opportunity,” state Republican Chairman Joseph Mondello said in an e-mailed statement. “We desperately need her voice to oppose the Democrats’ plans to stifle our economy, tax business out of existence and constrain individuals’ potential for success.”
Some Republicans are less than thrilled with Scozzafava because of her support for gay marriage, among other issues. The well-known conservative weblog Redstate carried a commentary from one of its leaders entitled, “What A Republican Suicide Looks Like”. Erick Erickson wrote:
“One candidate is pro-life, supports traditional marriage, and is pretty fiscally responsible.
The other is pro-abortion, supports gay marriage, and is pretty fiscally reckless.
YouÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d think the first candidate is the Republican and the second is the Democrat. You would be wrong.”
Her social positions could help her with independent voters, however.
Erickson is presuming that the Democratic candidate will be socially conservative Democratis State Senator Darrel Aubertine. Aubertine has yet to announce that he’s going to run, but at least one other potential candidate, former United States Attorney Dan French, told the Watertown Times he has not applied for the nomination because he believes Aubertine will run and party leaders want him to run. Democragic party chairs set a deadline of today for candidates to get into the race.
The Independence Party, a third party founded by billionaire Tom Golisano, offered to endorse Aubertine if he would run.
He hasn’t said whether he’ll run yet and is said to be genuinely torn about the prospect of battling his friend, Scozzafava. He is also the margin of majority for Senate Democrats, who may not have an ideal candidate to run in the special election to replace Aubertine, if he should win election to Congress.
National Republicans are also assuming Aubertine’s the man. They’ve begun an expensive round of TV ads, robocalls and direct mailings attacking Aubertine. This ad begins airing in Syracuse, Watertown and Plattsburgh today:
And a memo obtained by the blog The New Argument from what it calls a well-known Republican consultant to the National Republican Congressional Committee outlines arguments against Aubertine on the economy and his reputation as an independent politician. It adds:
“This guy has what we in the business call ” a problem with the truth”. He wouldn’t know the truth if it hit him in the ass.
The memo and the round of negative ads, from which Scozzafava distanced herself, all point to a campaign for Congress as negative and expensive as the two elections Aubertine won for the State Senate, should he enter.