Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Election Night 2009: Some Preliminary Thoughts

I have long loved politics and am a self-confessed political junkie; there was a time in my life when it would have been entirely possible that I'd end up a political hack (I'm glad that I didn't). Election night for me often has the feel of the Super Bowl.

2009 is an off year election, so there weren't many major elections to follow but it still provided some interesting results. Here in South Carolina, I had two friends running for their respective city/town councils. In my hometown of Myrtle Beach, Randal Wallace, whom I've known since we were both kids, will face a runoff in his bid for reelection to the City Council -- among those headed to the runoff he got the most votes, so he gets two more weeks of campaigning. In Mount Pleasant, Howard Chalmers, whom I knew from my days in Moultrie Camp #27, SCV (I'm still in the SCV, just another camp), was unsucessful in his bid for a seat on the Town Council. That's unfortunate, as he would have been a strong conservative voice there; I hope this isn't the end of his political aspirations.

In Virginia and New Jersey, Republicans won (and in Virginia, won big!). Despite the denials of the White House that those weren't reproofs of President Obama, he had campaigned actively for both of the Democrats in those races and was not able to deliver the vote. It appears that the honeymoon is over and that 2010 won't be pleasant for him and may actually be a 1994-redux.

The most interesting race, in my opinion, has been New York's 23rd Congressional District and the seat vacated by former Congressman John McHugh's appointment as Secretary of the Army. Until last weekend it had been a three way race between Democrat Bill Owens, Republican State Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava, and Conservative Doug Hoffman. Scozzafava, a liberal Republican by any reasonable standard, dropped out after it became clear that she was fast loosing support. As I write this, shortly after midnight, it appears that Owens has won by a thin margin, so thin, in fact, that if the small amount of votes that Scozzafava received had gone to Hoffman, he would have been victorious. The absentee ballots have not yet been counted and there are some voting machine issues. This race may be in the news in the coming days.

The Conservative Party of New York State, under whose banner Hoffman ran, is an interesting entity that is worthy of emulation in other parts of the country, somewhat of a party within a party when the Republican party stays on conservative message, and functioning as an alternative at those times (as with Scozzafava) when it does not. Unlike most third parties, it has actually elected someone in a statewide race -- James Buckley, who was elected to the U.S. Senate on the Conservative ticket in 1970 (he went on to loose his bid for reelection in 1976, running as a Republican). There is a serious need to keep the Republican party on conservative message and the Republican Assembly concept is another way to do that and should be supported throughout the country. Conservatives need to be willing to vote for a third-party when the Republican candidates are unacceptable.

Given that Scozzafava's campaign was funded in large part by the National Republican Congressional Committee, they are unworthy of support and former supporters should let them know the reason for that lack of support.

2010 should be a an exceptionally interesting year. I hope that the Republican Party presents itself as a Conservative entity rather than trying to moderate itself.

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