Newt Gingrich’s decision to endorse the very liberal Dede Scozzafava over the very conservative Doug Hoffman in the New York 23rd Congressional District special election will probably be seen as one of the biggest political blunders of his career. In one ill informed decision, he has destroyed all the political capital he built up among the grassroots through his early public support for the Tax Day Tea Party. Every single person I’ve talked to in the Tea Party Movement is strongly supporting Doug Hoffman and simply can’t comprehend the former Speaker’s reasoning. His chances of securing support for a 2012 Presidential bid from the Tea Party Movement have turned to dust.
It’s ironic that a respected historian and student of military history like the Speaker has made exactly the kind of error many failed generals have made: He’s fighting today’s war based on the tactics that succeeded in the last war. He seems to think that the “big tent” philosophy he used to craft the majority that won the House for Republicans in 1994 and gave him the Speakership is the right strategy for 2009, fifteen years later. It’s clearly not. There wasn’t much of an internet back then, and there was certainly no Tea Party Movement.
More disturbingly, the Speaker failed to do his homework on how Ms. Scozzafava secured the nomination. It’s a tainted nomination, and if he had taken the time to return any of the several phone calls I made to him, or the direct messages I sent to him on Twitter, I could have given him the first hand information of the cronyism that lead to Ms. Scozzafava’s nomination. I documented this in great detail in my article at The TCOT Report last week.
The Speaker has repeatedly claimed that Ms. Scozzafava received the majority of the votes of the committeemen at the four candidate forums conducted throughout the district. This is factually untrue. In fact, the liberal Clinton County Chairwoman who cast the deciding vote for Ms. Scozzafava when the eleven county chairmen convened to select the nominee has publicly acknowledged that the majority of the Clinton County committee members who attended the Plattsburgh, New York forum voted for a conservative candidate, not Ms. Scozzafava. The Republican rank and file of the 23rd Congressional District are clearly conservative, and do not support the liberal Ms. Scozzafava in this special election, and if the nomination process had not been tainted, the Republican Party would have nominated a conservative.
The election is a week away, and the Speaker still has an opportunity to redeem himself in the eyes of the Tea Party Movement. He could do the Republican Party and fiscal conservatives around the country a great service by calling Dede Scozzafava today and asking her to withdraw from the race. But I’m certainly not holding my breath for that to happen.