NY House race seen as test for GOP, Obama

October 31, 2009

Spearheading the bid to win in a century old Republican bastion are President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton. Unlikely as it seems, the race is shaping up as a test of a struggling GOP. The Democratic candidate, 60 year old Bill Owens goes up against 49 year old Republican Dierdre Scozzafava, a state Assemblywoman, and Conservative candidate and business man Doug Hoffman, 59.

The seat is symbolic to the Republicans in a national context and as such former President Bill Clinton stated it’s “bigger than just one candidate or one office … victory or defeat will also be seen as a referendum on President Obama’s agenda.” However, the 11 county 23rd Congressional District is viewed as a swing district, according to State GOP Chairman Edward Cox. An October 15 survey revealed Owens to be the leader with 33 percent, followed by Scozzafava with 29 percent, and Hoffman at the rear with 23 percent. The survey led June O’Neill, executive committee chairwoman of the state Democratic Party to make the observation “This seat should be a safe Republican seat and – as recent events and the most recent poll has shown – it is no longer a safe Republican seat”.

While the two former Presidents are endorsing Bill Owens, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich endorses Scozzafava, and conservative groups like The Club for Growth are endorsing Hoffman.
The election was forced on the district as a result of the incumbent, Republican John McHugh, being picked by President Obama to be his Army Secretary.