Monday, November 02, 2009

One of the more rural congressional districts steals the spotlight for tomorrow's elections

One of the more rural congressional districts has been "catapaulted to the front of the political scene" by the withdrawal of the moderate Republican in a special election and her endorsement of the Democratic nominee, Judy Woodruff reported tonight for PBS NewsHour. ( map)

Republican Deirdre Scozzafava won the endorsement of New York District 23's largest paper, the Watertown Daily Times, Thursday. The paper said her answers to its questions had "a breadth and depth that are unmatched by her opponents." But on Saturday she released her supporters, and yesterday she endorsed Democrat Bill Owens over Conservative Party nominee Doug Hoffman for the seat vacated by Republican John McHugh, now secretary of the Army. Times reporter Nancy Madsen has a comprehensive wrapup.

Scozzafava, a Republican leader in the state Assembly, had won the nomination from local GOP officials but was unacceptable to many of the party's rank and file because she is "pro-gay marriage, pro-choice, pro-stimulus," Amy Walter of The Hotline told Woodruff, who said the fight "put the spotlight on the rift between the moderate and conservative factions of the Republican Party." Hoffman lives in Lake Placid, which is outside the district, but the Constitution requires only that House members live in the state containing their district.

When Scozzafava withdrew, Republican National Chairman Michael Steele switched his endorsement to Hoffman. Today Vice President Joe Biden campaigned with Owens, who recently changed his registration from independent to Democratic. Biden said radio talker Rush Limbaugh "handpicked" Hoffman, the Times reports. Biden and President Obama carried the district a year ago.

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