The Democrats finally got some good news tonight when Bill Owens won the special House election for New York District 23, in the North Country along the Canadian Border. With 88% reporting, Owens led Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman 49% to 45%, with Republican Dede Scozzafava, who dropped out of the race over the weekend, garnering 5%. Hoffman had the backing of many establishment Republicans over the more moderate Scozzafava, who endorsed Owens after dropping out of the race.
While Obama did win this district by 5 points last year, this is the first time that the district has been represented by a Democrat in over 140 years, and it leaves New York with only two Republicans in its 29-member Congressional delegation.
It will be interesting to see what happens with the Republican party now as it gears up for next year’s Congressional midterms. Did the national party cut off its nose to spite its face by backing Hoffman in the name of ideological purity? Will the party split in two and give us a viable third party? Will moderate Republicans align with the Democrats now?
Happy Election Day! May the elections going on across the country today not be marred by voting machine malfunctions, hanging chads, vote fraud or any other shenanigans. May whoever wins today win fair and square.
The five “big” elections in this off year are for the governorships of New Jersey and Virginia, the special House election in NY District 23, the Mayor of New York City and Prop 1, to overturn the Maine government’s approval of gay marriage. With Michael Bloomberg expected to be re-elected easily in NYC and Bob McDonnell leading all the polls by double digits for the last week-plus, the eyes of the nation will be on The Garden State and Northwest New York state.
Anything could happen in those two races. Both will come down to who gets their base to the polls in larger numbers. Since turnout in off-year elections is usually low, the usual theory about needing to play for the independents and undecideds doesn’t necessarily apply. As a Republican (and a fairly conservative one at that) in deep blue New Jersey, turnout will be extremely important for Chris Christie if he hopes to oust incumbent Jon Corzine.
Whatever happens tonight, pundits are going to spin it as a referendum on President Obama, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi. And they’ll be wrong. These are all local elections on local issues. If Christie somehow wins tonight, it will be because enough NJ voters were disenchanted with the state of affairs under Corzine and considered Christie to be better, not because they want to send a message to Obama. The result in the NY-23 special election could be a statement of whether or not moderates are welcome in the Republican Party, but it also won’t be a referendum on Obama.
Polls close at 7 p.m. ET in Virginia, 8 p.m. in NJ and ME and 9 p.m. in New York. And there are municipal elections across the country as well. So make sure you vote.