Posted on | May 10, 2011 | 22 Comments
You may remember in February when “fit fun classy guy” Rep. Chris Lee (R-Stupid) resigned from Congress after being caught trolling Craigslist for dates. That set up a special election to fill the seat, now scheduled for May 24 — two weeks from today.
Republican county chairs picked Assemblywoman Jane Corwin as their candidate, while Democrats picked an obscure county official, Kathy Hochul. This is a strong Republican district in western New York and Corwin, who also has the crucial endorsement of the state’s Conservative Party, should be running away with this.
Alas, there is the Crazy Jack Davis, a once-upon-a-time Republican who, in 2004, 2006 and 2008, ran for the NY-26 seat as a Democrat. Crazy Jack has now managed to get himself on the May 24 ballot as a “Tea Party” candidate. Of course, he’s not in any way representative of the Tea Party movement, and is supported by no Tea Party organizations, but nevertheless — funny how these coincidences happen — Davis has the “Tea Party” ballot line.
Crazy Jack Davis is a millionaire protectionist. As Sam Foster pointed out at Red State, “His signature issue, his raison d’etre has to do with our nation’s trade imbalance . . . He wants to cancel all free trade agreements in favor of something he calls ‘balanced trade.’ ” Which is utter nonsense, of course. (How is it that some people — Donald Trump is another — become millionaires without understanding basic economics?) “Balanced trade” is just a variation of economic nationalism which, in turn, is a straight road to the planned economy. But if you don’t yet understand why free trade is better policy than protectionism, there’s no point in my lecturing at this point: You’re on the wrong blog, pal.
Of far more immediate political relevance is the fact that a substantial number of NY-26 residents appear to be buying the Smoot-Hawley snake oil that Crazy Jack is selling. One recent poll showed Davis playing the “spoiler” role in the special election by pulling independent voters away from the conservative Republican, Jane Corwin. This has enabled the Democrat to eke out a lead:
Hochul (Democrat) . . . . . 35
Corwin (Republican) . . . . 31
Davis (Crazy) . . . . . . . . . . 24
As the Lonely Conservative says, “A vote for Davis is a vote for Hochul.” And there is no doubt that Davis is a Democrat, rather than a true representative Tea Party movement. Crazy Jack’s campaign is run by progressive Democrat operative Curtis Ellis, who in February 2010 co-authored an op-ed column denouncing Tea Party supporters:
They fancy themselves the vanguard of a revolution, when in fact they are typical self-absorbed, privileged children used to having their way — now — and uninhibited about complaining loudly when they don’t.
The question conservatives should be asking themselves is, “Why is a transparent fraud like Davis evidently hurting the GOP in this poll?” And the answer, I would suggest, is two-fold:
1. Republicans have done a piss-poor job of articulating the principles of a free-market economic policy, having become accustomed instead to winning elections waged over cultural issues or national-security policy.
2. The New York state GOP establishment, in particular, is inept and out-of-touch.
Talk to conservative grassroots Republicans in New York — and I talked to lots of them during the fabled NY-23 campaign of 2009 — and you will get an earful about the “Albany insiders” and their idiotic idea that the GOP can win elections as an unprincipled “me-too” party.
Despite the fact that 36% of New York residents are Catholic, and these Catholic voters represent the “swing” vote in every close election, state GOP leaders have a profound horror of pro-lifers and other social conservatives. This was why they thought pro-abortion Dede Scozzafava was a good candidate for NY-23 and why, in last year’s mid-term election, a pro-life candidate like Ann Marie Buerkle in NY-25 got very little support from the party establishment.
Of course, fixing the Republican Party in the two weeks between now and May 24 is not an option. The question is how to beat Hochul by rallying support for Corwin and discrediting Crazy Jack. Looking on the upside, the polls probably overstate Crazy Jack’s support. A lot of people who tell pollsters they’ll vote for a novelty candidate won’t actually show up to vote on Election Day. But New York Tea Party activists (some of whom were disgruntled by the GOP’s choice of Corwin) need to get the message out that Crazy Jack is the wrong choice for NY-26.
The conservative group American Crossroads just announced a $350,000 ad buy on behalf of Jane Corwin and John Boehner campaigned for Corwin last night:
NY-26 is a winnable district, and a GOP defeat would be interpreted by the media (however falsely) as a repudiation of the conservative agenda. Let’s win this one!
A win by the Democrat in this Republican district — even if created by a phony Tea Party candidate siphoning off votes from the Republican– will be spun as a major victory for Obama. You will hear nothing but how it signals Obama’s turnaround, how it reflects Obama’s new found popularity after the bin Laden kill, and how it signals unhappiness with Republicans.