Republicans Blow Another House Seat
MAHONEY: Defeat for another House Seat
By D. Patrick Mahoney,
Since President Obama was sworn in, the Republican Party has won surprise statewide victories in New Jersey, Virginia and Massachusetts. But in a big year for the party, Republicans lost all five special House races, including two in ruby-red districts because House special-election candidates are not chosen by rank-and-file Republicans in a primary but rather by a handful of party insiders in a back room.
Consider the special election to replace Senate appointee Kirsten Gillibrand last spring in upstate New York’s 20th District. Behind closed doors, members of state and local Republican committees chose career politician Jim Tedisco, leader of the powerless Assembly minority, to be the party’s standard-bearer though he didn’t even live in the district. Mr. Tedisco lost to 38-year-old upstart Scott Murphy despite 70,000-more Republicans than Democrats in the district.
Republicans farther north in the Empire State’s 23rd District didn’t learn any lessons from the Tedisco disaster. Last fall, they nominated liberal Assembly Republican Dede Scozzafava and rejected Doug Hoffman even though he had far more support from actual Republican voters.
Republicans recoiled at Mrs. Scozzafava and backed Mr. Hoffman, who secured a third-party nomination from the state’s influential Conservative Party. Mrs. Scozzafava ultimately dropped out of the race and endorsed the Democrat, who narrowly defeated Mr. Hoffman. The Republican establishment’s self-inflicted wound handed the Democrats a seat that just 10 months earlier gave the Republican candidate 65 percent of the vote.
But these nightmare scenarios are nothing compared to what the Republican establishment did on March 11 in Pennsylvania’s 12th District special election to replace the late Jack Murtha.