Picking up Dede Scozzafava to run on the Democratic line to replace Representative John McHugh in the NY-23rd would be the equivalent to the Calgary Flames picking up Brett Hull in the sixth round, as the 117th overall pick of the NHL Draft. It would be really, totally HUGE, maybe even the Billy Fucillo Auto Mall kind of HUGE!!!
To bad for the Flames they traded Hull, because he never developed a good relationship with Flames coach Terry Crisp. “The Golden Brett” later went on to become a Hall-of-Famer and the third all-time leading goal scorer in NHL history. We only refer to the Flames-Hull analogy, not to rehash the Flames poor decision-making, but because: 1) something can be learned from this situation and it can be applied to the NY-23rd, 2) hockey is awesome and the sport of choice for most reasonable souls in the district so we hope people will be able relate to said analogy, and 3) because, again, it just fits so well with the current dynamic we have been talking about in the NY-23rd all week (and I love hockey).
So here we go – a key lesson can be learned from the Flames mistake of passing on Hull. The Flames underestimated how inexplicably HUGE Brett Hull’s career would turn out to be, and they didn’t think of him as a typical player (he was only 5’10’’) and because of their natural bias. Old Flames fans show visual signs of deep regret and remorse when they look back and realize that Hull had actually scored over 100 goals in less than 60 games in the minors. Here is a lesson that every DCCC staffer and DNC operative working on candidate recruitment should never forget – never underestimate how good some people really are until you find out more about them (it’s a common mistake in sports, life, and yes, politics).
Now that my hockey lesson is out of the way I want to follow back to the discussion of poaching Dede, the term one shame of a blog used in describing our effort, from the dying party from the South. It comes down to this –politics is about winning and we are “poaching” Scozzafava for both her own good and for ours. The funny thing is we have a natural bias against Dede because she has an R at the end of her name (she probably doesn’t even know why she has an R at the end of her name, but she always had it there so it made sense after awhile). We recognize this, but we are also open-minded and looking into the facts of the situation, looking to see where Scozzafava is on the issues. And if you get to know Dede in a personal way or a political way, as some of our team has, you learn fairly quickly that she is a very kind and compassionate woman, even going back before her time as Mayor of Gouverneur. She is truly an independent thinker with a progressive philosophy. But not only that, once you get to know Scozzafava just a little bit it is sometimes hard to remember she has an R at the end of her name when she is in Albany. That is why we like her.
From a party prospective: We smell blood and need to strike, and do it now in this special election. Elections have consequences and for the Republican Party that is going to mean it will be closing its doors for business in virtually the entire Northeast. Obama’s team has done an incredible job in taking over NY-20 this year, trying to get Senator Judd Gregg out of New Hampshire, and pushing Arlen Specter off the Republican cliff in the Keystone State. Now he has given us this opportunity in NY-23. We must follow Obama’s lead and change the way we do things, take advantage the confusion present in the situation and fill the political vacuum.
As most of you have followed the race know, there are only three Republicans with federal elective positions left from New York: Rep. Peter King from Long Island, Rep. Chris Lee from Buffalo, and Rep. John McHugh from just south of Canada. King may run for US Senate this cycle (if he does we look forward to seeing his political career end in an embarrassing 70-30% defeat). Lee was a self-financer who barely pulled off victory by the skin of his teeth. If we keep the State Senate we could always redistrict him into permanent irrelevance. We all know now that McHugh will be history in short notice and quite frankly we can use his seat to divide and conquer the GOP once and for assuming we pick the right candidate for the job, Dede Scozzafava.
So when thinking about the Flames-Hull analogy, also think of the DNC-Scozzafava connection. DNC, you want Scozzafava and you need her; please don’t lose her. The DNC and the New York Democratic Party cannot let this opportunity slide away, not when we know she would mean the death-knoll to the Republican Party, and that she would add another voice of reason to our ranks in the US Congress. Whether your motivation and desire is to see our district actually have a place on the map with a competent representative who can get things done with the party in charge, or whether you favor a liberal-progressive philosophical ideology, you cannot get any better than Dede Scozzafava. And compared to Aubertine she is better on our issues. Consider the Hotline, a national political update site, report that said, “Aubertine is a conservative Dem who is against gay marriage and is ‘well-versed’ in rural issues (he's a dairy farmer)” (Benjamin, “Daily Politics,” New York Daily News, 6/2).
From Dede’s prospective: We admit, she is going to need some more cover before this move happens. Which means we need to keep building support both politically and otherwise. We can tell you that we know Scozzafava has been considering a few things on this end according to close allies of hers. First they say that she is very, very nervous about not getting the conservative party endorsement and she thinks it could be much tougher to win the GOP nomination and then the special election without their help and endorsement. The Conservative Party makes up a hardcore base in high-intensity political battles like this one (although the county GOP & DEM leadership teams will likely determine their respective nominees behind closed doors). Still, there is probably some truth to Dede’s fear that siphoning conservative support could doom her chances. The Hotline also reported that the possibility of the CD "disappearing" following 2012 redistricting "doesn't scare her, either.”… But the process "might break against" her, as she "supports same-sex marriage, a position that might cause" GOP officials to "balk" and would likely cost her the Conservative Party line (Vielkind, PolitickerNY, 6/2).
This line of reasoning has Scozzafava in a real tizzy because even if she were to 1) miraculously win the GOP nomination, then 2) win the special election, and then 3) survive redistricting in 2012, she would still have 4) major headaches (find more on the redistricting debate here). For one, Scozzafava would face an incredible onslaught of Republicans trying to “eat their own” moderates on the national level. The daily criticism from the hardcore fringe right both locally and nationally would take every opportunity and stop at nothing to mock Scozzafava to the point where we would all be tone deaf. For evidence look to see how Sen. Susan Collins, Sen. Olympia Snowe, former Sen. Lincoln Chaffee, and former Republican (now Democrat) Sen. Arlen Specter were treated by their party in recent times. We have also heard from Dede’s people that “she is nervous that national Republicans would try to strong arm her on their key votes, limiting her independence and conscience on votes. Does Dede really want to be a pawn of a party retreating to the South, or does she want to make a difference and vote her conscience,” which is the right thing for her to do personally and for the constituents in the 23rd.
Hindsight is 20-20, so they say. Hindsight says the Flames should have never, ever traded what would have been their franchise player, Brett Hull. Hull was a guy who could have really put Calgary on the map, instead they missed their opportunity and sometimes you only get one shot at it. Democrats and Dede both have a choice to make with their one shot. One thing is for certain about the decisions they both will make: They are gun’na be HUUUUUUUUGGGGGE!