Why I'm Not So Worried About NY-23
by Jonathan Singer, Mon Nov 30, 2009 at 07:07:24 AM EST
Stuart Rothenberg (via Political Wire) calls the New York congressional district won last month in a special election by Democrat Bill Owens one of the 12 most vulnerable House seats in the nation for 2010 (for some reason rating the district ahead of the open seat the GOP is defending in Illinois 10, which backed Barack Obama by a 61 percent to 38 percent margin in 2008). But I'm not nearly as bullish on the GOP's hopes in this district as is Rothenberg. Here's why:
Accountant Doug Hoffman will again run for the seat he narrowly lost in a special election earlier this month, he said in a statement on his campaign website Thursday.
Hoffman rescinded a concession he made in the early morning hours after election night, and he's spent the last few weeks making an issue of alleged vote fraud; he has basically blamed ACORN for his loss. People who focus on the last election don't do terribly well on the future one -- just ask Chris Jennings, the Dem nominee in FL-13, who complained about her narrow 369-vote loss under questionable circumstances to Rep. Vern Buchanan in '06; in 2008, she lost her rematch in '08 by a 55%-38% margin. Hoffman will have to get over his loss this year to make a new argument next year.
Had Doug Hoffman stuck his head down after his loss and started working towards 2010, he might have had a great shot at winning -- perhaps better than even odds. But Hoffman didn't do this. Instead, he had a public tantrum, unconceding and blaming his loss not on the fact that he was a poor fit for the district but rather on some sort of alleged, though entirely unproven, fraud. Voters aren't terribly fond of sore losers -- it's just not the type of action that carries with it the sense of gravitas that voters tend to like.
Moreover, Hoffman just isn't a good fit for the district. During the special election, he walked into an editorial board meeting with a newspaper in the district almost entirely devoid of an understanding of local issues. While it is certainly true that House elections are federal elections and thus implicate more national than local issues, voters don't tend to support candidates who wear their indifference towards the needs of their community on their sleeve.
This race could yet end up close, and Hoffman might even get swept into Washington in a wave election for Republicans, should one occur. But this just isn't one of the 12 most vulnerable congressional districts in the country.