ALBANY—The fight between the Conservative and Republican designees to replace John McHugh in Congress is still stirring.
Conservative designee Doug Hoffman sent a letter re-asking Republican officials to reconsider their nomination of Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava, and challenging her to a series of debates before the legally binding selection takes place. (This can't happen until McHugh resigns, which he hasn't.)
"I make this suggestion as a way for Republicans to find out "up close and personal" which of us is best suited to succeed John McHugh in the U.S. Congress," wrote Hoffman in a letter to the 11 county chairs in the district. He calls Scozzafava a "liberal" and calls himself a "Reagan Republican."
Hoffman and other Conservative Party officials have been blasting Scozzafava from the right, upset particularly with her stances in favor of same-sex marriage and abortion-rights. Her campaign has tried to bolster its conservative bona fides, and scored with an editorial this morning saying voter should not consider her liberal.
Henry Wojtaszek, the "upstate chairman" of the party wrote a letter early last week to Conservative Chairman Mike Long telling him to but out of the party's business and saying he was "deeply disappointed" with attacks on Scozzafava. Yesterday, another letter to Long (above) told him it was "unfortunate" that he endorsed Hoffman, which "will do nothing more than improve the chances of the Democrats by splitting our voters."
"Your candidate participated in our process," said the latest letter, signed by all 11 county chairs in the district, says. "He has discredited his character by seeking the Conservative Party's endorsement. There is no need for us to re-examine the candidacy of Dede Scozzafava. We do not feel that your candidate can unite us. Mr. Hoffman does not possess the experience or character or have the support of enrolled Republican voters necessary to win the special election."
Below is the full text of Hoffman's challenge.
DOUG HOFFMAN FOR CONGRESS
P.O. Box 708
Saranac Lake, NY 12983
Honorable Republican County Chairs
23rd Congressional District
(Via e-mail) August 19, 2009
The postponement of Congressman John McHugh's confirmation as Secretary of the Army has given our party a great opportunity. We all presumed that by now Congressman McHugh would have vacated his seat and the GOP would have officially picked a candidate to be their standard-bearer in the upcoming special election.
Since this has not happened and since the outcome of this race will have ramifications that affect not only the district, but the nation as a whole, I would like to respectfully propose the following idea: between now and mid September, the Republican Party should sponsor a series of 3-5 debates between Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava and me.
We have both met with you, the County Chairs, over the last few months. Now would be the perfect opportunity for the candidates to present themselves to the backbone of our party, namely rank-and-file Republicans.
Having served as the GOP Chair for the Town of North Elba for five years, I know how important it is for Chairs to reach a consensus among those they lead, before they pick who is most qualified to be our Party's standard-bearer. When this is not achieved, it breeds discontent among the party faithful, the very same people the GOP nominee will need to win this important race.
I make this suggestion, as a way for Republicans to find out "up close and personal" which of us is best suited to succeed John McHugh in the U.S. Congress.
Dede Scozzafava is a liberal, plain and simple. She can't deny it; her voting record proves it. In fact, last November her name appeared on the Working Families Party ticket directly below Barak Obama's and Joe Biden's. Mind you this was not some fluke, because in 2004 she shared the same ticket with John Kerry and John Edwards. These facts prove the thesis that she really does not represent the ideals and principles that the majority of New York Republicans believe in.
I, on the other hand, am a common sense conservative Republican. I believe in cutting taxes and reducing deficits. As someone who proudly served for six years in the military, I believe in a strong national defense and am a strong supporter of the war on terror.
As a father and grandfather, I believe abortion is wrong and that marriage is between a man and a woman. I vigorously oppose the Obama healthcare plan, the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", and a host of other policies and programs that the Obama-Pelosi-Reid troika has been cooking up in Washington.
In short I am a "Reagan Republican" and I'm proud of this.
I firmly believe that grass-roots Republicans should have a voice in whom our nominee is for Congress and that's why I think the GOP should sponsor debates in the next few weeks in Plattsburgh, Watertown, the City of Oswego, as well as locations in Madison and Fulton Counties. By setting up this series of debates, Republican voters, the general public and the media can decide who is best suited to be the standard-bearer of the GOP.
My campaign would be more than happy to split the cost of the rentals of whatever facilities are needed for the debates with the Scozzafava campaign. Should her campaign not be able to afford the above, I am more than willing to instruct the treasurer of my campaign to pick up the "full tab".
In closing, I think this would be a great opportunity to increase public awareness of where the candidates stand on the issues and to show how open our party's selection process is.
Hon. James Ellis – Franklin County
Hon. George Joseph – Oneida County
Hon. George Williams – Oswego County
Hon. Janet Duprey – Clinton County
Hon. Nancy Martin – St. Lawrence County
Hon. Ronald Jackson – Essex County
Hon. Sam Villanti – Lewis County
Hon. Sandra Corey – Jefferson County
Hon. Susan McNeil – Fulton County
Hon. Therese Wiley Dancks – Madison County
Hon. William Farber – Hamilton County