Jim Ellis, the regional vice-chairman of the Republican Party, says the G.O.P.'s early focus and quick attacks against State Senator Darrel Aubertine "drove him out of the race" to replace John McHugh in Congress.
"We had to presume it was Aubertine," Ellis told me by phone. I asked him about the theory—which some have proclaimed more openly than others—that New York Republicans were trying to draw Aubertine into the Congressional race so they would stand a better chance at taking back the Senate seat he currently occupies. (The district is considered heavily Republican.)
Nonsense, Ellis said.
"Everybody has their conspiracy theories, I don't deal in conspiracies," he said. "After 40 years in this business, I could smell it: he's in trouble. You know that movie <Mr. Smith Goes to Washington? I think Mr. Aubertine went to Albany, and I think he got snookered by the guys from New York City. And that's about as mean a thing as I'll say about him. He's a nice man."
Before we hung up, Ellis said of Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava, the party's newly named candidate for the seat, "She and I disagree on social issues a great deal. I've let her know about it, and I'll continue to let her know about it."
That said, Ellis said he is not concerned that Scozzafava will be outflanked on the right.