Tea-Party Activists Complicate Republican Comeback Strategy – WSJ.com
OCTOBER 16, 2009
Tea-Party Activists Complicate Republican Comeback Strategy
By NAFTALI BENDAVID
PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. — The rise of conservative “tea party” activists around the country has created a dilemma for Republicans. They are breathing life into the party’s quest to regain power. But they’re also waging war on some candidates hand-picked by GOP leaders as the most likely to win.
In upstate New York, Dede Scozzafava, 49 years old, is the choice of local party leaders to defend a Republican seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, an abortion-rights candidate who could appeal to independents. Doug Hoffman, 59, is a local accountant backed by tea-party activists who has jumped into the race declaring himself the real conservative.
Conservative politics has been given a boost with the rise of “tea party” activists. But WSJ’s Naftali Bendavid says the support could backfire on the Republican Party, as opposition mounts to a number of the party’s midterm election candidates.
Mr. Hoffman has siphoned so much support from Ms. Scozzafava that their Democratic rival has vaulted into the lead, according to a poll released Thursday. The election is Nov. 3.
“I am not your run-of-the-mill politician, and maybe that’s why the Republican bosses didn’t like me,” Mr. Hoffman told a recent health-care forum sponsored by the Upstate New York Tea Party. In an interview, Ms. Scozzafava acknowledged her discomfort at the event. “I knew it wasn’t going to be an easy audience for me,” she said.
Republicans are poised to pick up a number of seats in next year’s congressional elections, pollsters estimate, on the back of a deep recession, public unease about the growth of government and the size of the nation’s deficit. Anti-Obama activism manifested in rallies and town-hall meetings has galvanized conservatives, injecting enthusiasm into the Republican base.