The conservative backers of New York third-party candidate Doug Hoffman, a crowd that included Marilyn Musgrave, Sarah Palin and presidential hopeful Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, view their campaign efforts a victory, even though Hoffman Tuesday night lost the once-safely Republican district to Democrat Bill Owens. So-called tea party conservatives see the GOP loss as a victory for conservativism over mere political party loyalty. They’re describing the defeat as a warning shot fired in defense of principle.
Musgrave, a former 4th District Republican U.S. Congresswoman who lost to Democrat Betsy Markey last year and now works for the pro-life activist organization Susan B. Anthony List, told the New York Times that party leaders in Washington should take the message of the campaign and the election seriously, that the Party base should not be taken for granted. “Don’t just assume we’re yours,” she said.
“This is probably the most amazing coalition-building I’ve seen in a long time — probably decades,” said Marilyn Musgrave, a former Republican congresswoman from Colorado who now works with the Susan B. Anthony List and came to New York to campaign for Mr. Hoffman.
On Tuesday morning, Ms. Musgrave stood in frigid weather for several hours outside a state office building in downtown Watertown with a group of home-schooled students passing out blue fliers that read, “Doug Hoffman shares our values!”
The battle in New York likely reverberates through Republican Party leadership across the country, including here in Colorado.
Yesterday, arch-conservative state Sen. Dave Schultheis, who made a show of backing the Conservative Party’s Hoffman over the Republican candidate, announced he would not be running for a second term. His would-be primary opponent Tom McDowell, however, took little comfort in the news. McDowell told the Colorado Independent that conservatives of Schultheis’s ilk were stubbornly wrecking the party. The single-mindedness on abortion in Schultheis’s case, for example, he said, amounted to Republican “fratricide.”
Schultheis is “too in love with single issue inspired fratricide. I expect that his wing of the party will try to put up someone else, but that candidate will have to carry Schultheis’ fratricidal baggage.’”