National conservative figures got involved in New York's 23rd district special election, and they got involved in a big way. As Politics Daily's Jill Lawrence points out, they eventually succeeded in muscling the Republican candidate--the pro-abortion-rights, pro-same-sex-marriage Dede Scozzafava--out of the race with a slew of endorsements, money, and criticism.
Now we are left with a race between Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman, upon whom the hopes and dreams of the conservative movement are pinned. He's an acolyte of Glenn Beck's 9/12 quasi-tea-party movement: having signed Beck's 9/12 candidate pledge, he's an official 9/12 candidate--part of a (possibly) new breed of conservative that sits to the right of the national GOP, and which, could, some think, rise to prominence in 2010 if grassroots conservatives sustain their energy...and if that energy is something candidates can thrive on enough, at least, to think that they have a legitimate shot at winning seats in the House of Representatives.
So what if Hoffman loses?
Here are my predictions, anyway:
1. Newt Gingrich looks like a genius. Gingrich has been the one top-tier GOP figure to stump for Scozzafava, arguing that the party needs to pursue moderation for the sake of electability. It's a pragmatic argument that other conservatives have rejected. If Hoffman loses, Newt will have been right: that a conservative third-party candidate wasn't electable in this race, and now another Democrat has joined the House.