Saturday, October 31, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

Before people start (well, in fact, they have already started) trying to assign great significance to the drama that has been the NY-23 race to date.

A fundamental point about the NY-23 situation that seems largely ignored by discussions thereof is the manner by which Dede Scozzafava was nominated in the first place.  It is essential to understand that she was not nominated by the normal route in US congressional elections (i.e., a primary election), but rather was chosen by party leaders, presumably due to the fact that this was a special election.

As such, she never had an electoral base from which to fight and Hoffman’s entry into the race led to a quasi-primary within the general election itself.   The fact that this is a special election cannot be dismissed either, which creates it own dynamic in terms of campaigning, media attention, and turnout.

In other words, one cannot ignore the institutional effects that are going on here and it is far more sui generis than some may thing.

Having said that, however, it will galvanize certain conservative activists for the short term.

BTW, I would point out that I would be more than happy to see a serious third party movement emerge in the United States and I certainly have no personal stake in the NY-23 race.  I just don’t see this as anything more than one of those unusual races that emerge in the US from time to time that require an odd confluence of circumstances to occur rather than being some sort of watershed.  Think, for example, the Minnesota’s governor’s race in 1998.

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