Conservatives Talk Tactics in Wake of NY-23

The Congressional race saw grassroots bloggers triumph over the beltway establishment, but what about the party's future?

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New York's 23rd district Congressional race is a victory of the conservative grassroots over the GOP establishment (extensive background here). But, going forward, both grassroots and party leaders will have to work together to create a strong and electable Republican Party. Looking ahead beyond NY-23, conservatives draw lessons from the fight and evaluate a strategy for a successful and popular GOP.

  • Don't Let Bloggers Rule the Party  The Wall Street Journal cautions against giving the "bloody-minded and intolerant of all dissent" conservative base too much power. "A majority political party requires a far more diverse coalition than the audience for your average right-wing blogger or talk show host. [...] If conservatives now revolt against every GOP candidate who disagrees with them on trade, immigration or abortion, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid will keep their majorities for a very long time."
  • Embrace the Base, Ignore the Beltway  Conservative blogger Erick Erickson decries the beltway GOP establishment that selected Scozzafava. "[This election] is also a powerful reminder for House Republicans wanting to take back the House that they are going to need to ignore the NRCC and instead go right where right can win," he writes. "There is something about New York's 23rd Congressional District that reporters and the GOP establishment are ignoring. According to the PPP poll and the Sienna poll, Doug Hoffman is expanding the base of voters willing to vote for a conservative, not shrinking the base as the press alleges."
  • Stop Following Sarah Palin  Politics Daily columnist Jill Lawrence warns against following Sarah Palin, "the charismatic, free-lance leader of a grassroots army." Lawrence writes, "Hoffman could well win, giving short-term succor to the GOP and Palin's exclusionary, storm-the-barricades brand of Republicanism. And who knows when and where this will stop -- or where it will lead? It has all the elements of a runaway train, and very few Republicans are willing to step in front of it." She concludes, "How many non-politicians or obscure state legislators are going to step up after this, knowing that in mid-race their party may abandon them?"
  • Forget Talk of a 'Civil War'  National Review's Jonah Goldberg thinks this is all just the GOP rediscovering its conservative message. "The story is not that the GOP is self-destructing, it is that the conventional wisdom is being shown to be ludicrous," he writes. "Hoffman and McDonnell owe their success to the support of independents (the independents all of these people said wanted moderate, Democrat-lite policies) and to Republicans determined to stay true to conservative principles. Not only was the conventional wisdom wrong, the idea that there's a 'civil war' within the GOP revolving around this argument is nonsense."
  • Keep Up the Internal Fights  The Washington Examiner's Chris Stirewalt argues that primary and third-party challenges help guide the GOP. "Hillary Clinton's surrogates said that Obama shouldn't have even run because a primary challenge would divide the party and weaken Clinton for the general election showdown with inevitable Republican nominee Rudy Giuliani. Obama correctly rejected that notion, saying that a contested primary would energize, not demoralize, the Democratic base," he writes. "The lesson of the Obama ascendancy is that an enthusiastic base coupled with a reasonable-sounding candidate can win elections. The GOP remains unpopular, and the movement against career politicians is real. If the party wants to maximize its gains in 2010, it will need to look more like Doug Hoffman than Dede Scozzafava."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.