By Peter J. Smith

SYRACUSE, New York, October 23, 2009 ( – A conservative uprising against the GOP's selection of a staunchly pro-abortion, pro-gay “marriage” nominee has transformed the battle for New York's 23rd congressional district into a tight three-way race that has the strong possibility of a dark horse Conservative Party candidate pulling an upset victory – or sending a strong message to the GOP that they alienate social and fiscal conservatives at their peril.

New York's 23rd Congressional District covers much of the northern areas of upstate New York just north of Syracuse, bordering Canada, and encompassing most of the Adirondacks. While conservative values figure greatly into the political landscape of upstate New York, GOP party bosses instead chose to nominate NY Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava – a far-left Republican who has strong pro-abortion, pro-gay “marriage”, pro-tax, and pro-card check positions – to replace Rep. John McHugh, who handily won nine consecutive terms in a district that was safely Republican.

McHugh left the House of Representatives on September 21, 2009 to become Secretary of the Army, and Gov. David Paterson declared that Nov. 3 would be the date of a special election to replace him until the 2010 general election.

Local conservatives, however, outraged that GOP bosses selected a candidate so out-of-touch with their constituency, instead have fought back, running businessman Doug Hoffman on the Conservative Party ticket. The race has become extremely close in an area that would otherwise be a slam-dunk win for the GOP, as pro-life, pro-family conservatives and economic conservatives have made common cause to deliver the 23rd district into the hands of a candidate that will represent their values in Congress.

According to an October 15 Siena poll of the NY-23 special election, Democrat Bill Owens currently leads the race with 33 percent, followed by the GOP liberal Scozzafava at 29 percent, and Conservative Doug Hoffman with 23 percent, who leads among independent voters.

Those numbers are drastically different than two weeks ago, when Scozzafava stood ahead with 35 percent, Owens placed second with 28 percent, and Hoffman at 16 percent.

Siena pollster Steven Greenberg stated that the race would likely come down to the wire on Election Day, saying that the one sixth of undecided voters “will likely determine the outcome of this race.”

With Hoffman's insurgent candidacy accelerating, conservatives – social and fiscal – see an opportunity not only to teach the GOP a lesson, but also a realistic shot to snatch victory. For Hoffman, the endorsements have been coming in at rapid fire, beginning with the pro-family Concerned Women for America and then the Club for Growth.

Now former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has entered the fray, giving her full endorsement to Hoffman and pledging her personal support and the financial support of her political action committee, SarahPAC,

“Republicans and conservatives around the country are sending an important message to the Republican establishment in their outstanding grassroots support for Doug Hoffman: no more politics as usual,” stated Palin on her Facebook page.

Palin's endorsement followed after Dick Armey, chairman of FreedomWorks and former House Majority Leader from the conservative-driven 1994 Republican Revolution, gave Hoffman a huge boost. He appeared in New York to give a vigorous endorsement, mobilize “Tea Party” conservatives behind Hoffman and enhance Hoffman's name recognition – all critical for victory in the election contest.

So far, Hoffman has captured at least 19 total endorsements – including the New York State Right to Life Party, Susan B. Anthony List, National Organization for Marriage, Fred Thompson, and Steve Forbes to name a few. And Hoffman's campaign has reported more than $210,000 in on-line contributions since October 15, when the Siena poll was released – money that translates into ammunition for advertizing and greater name recognition.

Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann broke ranks with the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), House Minority Leader John Boehner and leading national GOP leaders on Wednesday, by declaring on the Laura Ingraham program that Hoffman was “on the ascendancy,” and that the GOP should give their support to him and not to the ill-chosen Scozzafava.

The election could prove to be a referendum on the direction of the GOP, and many commentators are ruefully saying that if the GOP fails to learn important lessons from botching a sure-fire victory in 2009, they are likely to lose a golden opportunity in 2010.

The Wall Street Journal excoriated GOP leaders for supporting Scozzafava in a October 21 editorial, saying that “A defeat would teach Republicans that running candidates who believe in nothing will keep them in the minority for years to come.”

The Journal's editors pointed out that Scozzafava stands to the left of President Barack Obama on the question of same-sex “marriage” and her position on taxes makes her Democratic opponent Bill Owens look conservative. Scozzafava has also run on the ticket of the socialist Working Families Party and there is no guarantee that she would not switch parties and caucus with the Democrats if she lost a GOP primary fight in 2010.

Pro-life and pro-family advocates are devoting considerable time and effort to canvass voters and make the difference for Hoffman in the election fight. Emily Buchanan, executive director of the Susan B. Anthony List is coordinating an independent project for the National Organization for Marriage & the Susan B. Anthony List to elect Hoffman by enlisting pro-life/pro-family advocates to man the polls on November 3.

In all, conservatives of all stripes – fiscal, pro-life, pro-family, pro-marriage – believe that the battle for the 23rd District is a pivotal moment for them, one with national implications that exceed the boundaries of a rural district in upstate New York.
Learn more about Doug Hoffman candidacy here.