A Democrat running in a historically Republican stronghold won a closely watched special congressional election in northern New York on Tuesday, capitalizing on a split that emerged between moderates and conservatives for control of the GOP.
With 92 percent of the precincts reporting early Wednesday, lawyer and retired Air Force Capt. Bill Owens defeated businessman Doug Hoffman, the Conservative Party candidate, 49 percent to 45 percent, after a boost from unified labor efforts in the last days of the campaign and the withdrawal of the Republican candidate over the weekend.
"This has been an extraordinary journey," said Owens, who thanked his family, President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.
"The process of bringing people together to get results is something I've been doing for a long time, and that's what I'm going to continue to do when I get to Washington," he added.
Owens also thanked one-time opponent Dierdre Scozzafava, a moderate Republican who exited the race Saturday under pressure from the party's right wing because of her support of abortion rights and same-sex marriage and momentum behind Hoffman. Scozzafava, an assemblywoman in the state legislature, picked up 6 percent of the vote herself.
The race has been getting national attention, with some calling it a referendum on President Barack Obama and others saying it could help Republicans focus their message to attract more people to the party.
Republicans hadn't lost in the region in more than a century. Owens defeated Hoffman despite a 45,000-voter registration edge for Republicans and big-name endorsements for Hoffman from former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, former Republican Sen. Fred Thompson and others. Hoffman had rallied an unexpected level of support in the final days of the campaign, ultimately forcing Scozzafava to quit when he surged past her in the polls.
"This is only one fight in the battle, people," Hoffman said before a gathering of supporters in Saranac Lake, N.Y., after conceding the race. "Let's keep the fight going. Let's make sure our voices are heard."
( Collapse )
Palin Actually Not That Popular In NY-23
Sarah Palin may have managed to drastically alter the course of upstate New York's special congressional election with a comment on her Facebook page. But despite catapulting the Conservative Party's Doug Hoffman to a likely victory in Tuesday's election, the former Alaska Governor is, herself, relatively unpopular in the state's 23rd district.
According to Public Policy Polling, 44 percent of voters in NY-23 said they had a negative view of the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee. That's one percentage point higher than those who viewed her favorably. Isolating just Republicans in the district, the numbers are better, but not overwhelmingly so. Fifty-three percent of Republican voters said they had a positive view of Palin while 32 percent said their view was negative.
( Collapse )