Home > Political Ranting, Right-Wing Extremism > NY-23 Was the Key Race–Made So by the Tea-Bagging Faction Themselves

NY-23 Was the Key Race–Made So by the Tea-Bagging Faction Themselves

November 7th, 2009

I know I’m not the only one asking this, but why are Congressional Democrats so embarrassed, even scared silly, at the special election results? Sure, two important states’ governorships went to the GOP–but those wins have far less to do with the Health Care Reform bill than the Congressional elections on the same day, especially the NY-23 race–and Dems won both.

The governorships were actually pretty meaningless for the health care debate. One was in Virginia, a red state that Democrats had been lucky enough to win from the GOP for a while; Republican McDonnell led Deeds by an 8-point margin all the way back from early this year, when Obama was still highly popular and Virginians had turned out to elect Obama. Any Democrat who frets over Virginia is apparently under the delusion that the state had somehow turned blue, against all indications. Just because Montana has Democratic Senators and a Dem Governor doesn’t make it a blue state, any more than Alaska’s Dem governor makes that a blue state, or Schwarzenegger makes California a red state. It’s just that in Virginia, we ran out of strong Democratic gubernatorial candidates; it was going to happen eventually.

New Jersey was more of a biting defeat for Dems, but aside from all the mitigating circumstances (various economic problems blamed on the incumbent, an association with Wall Street, etc.), it is important to remember that governors don’t vote in Congress, and voters understand that–in a governor, they are looking for a manager, not someone to represent their political views. Governorships commonly have less to do with party politics than other elected officials.

Democrats have to realize that these two elections, while high-profile, have little or no impact on the current congressional situation. No matter what the GOP hacks claim, these two elections had nothing to do with health care, nor were they any kind of referendum on Obama. There are simply no facts or figures which support this.

On the other hand, there were two other elections that day–both for House seats–which were of far greater significance. One was in NY-23, the other in CA-10. the CA-10 race, being won by a Democrat in a relatively strong blue district, was of lesser importance; there was not much chance that any kind of upset would happen there.

But NY-23 was a district that has been deeply right-wing since before the Civil War; it was the epitome of a conservative “safe seat.” And more significantly, it became the very essence of tea-bagging: the moderate conservative was ousted by sharply conservative carpet-baggers, bringing in a ringer from the outside, imposing the deeply partisan party line and insisting that a highly political statement be made. In short, the partisan conservatives, in particular the ones attacking health care reform, made NY-23 exactly about being a referendum on their politics. They must have figured that this was a safe place to do so–they could shove their candidate down the throats of the locals, and because it was a safe seat, they could win easily, then claim victory and a referendum supporting their values.

But they lost. In a district which Republicans usually win by huge margins, 30% or better, the conservative candidate lost by 4%.

Governorships have far less to do with issues like the Health Care Reform bill than any other significant political office, and the CA-10 house seat was a safe Dem seat, won safely. NY-23 was the big test, because the tea-bagging conservatives made it so.

Democrats should understand that very clear, simple message. And so should the conservatives.

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