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Club Makes Paterson the Issue in NY-23

The Club for Growth's first ad in the special election in New York's 23rd district hammers state Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava (R) and businessman Bill Owens (D) for their alleged similarities to Gov. David Paterson -- a move sure to stoke concerns within the Democratic establishment about the drag the Empire State's chief executive could have on downballot contests in 2010.

The ad's narrator notes that Scozzafava voted for Paterson's "huge tax and spend budget" while a picture of the state's governor in shown on screen. Later, images of Scozzafava, Owens, Paterson and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) are shown while the narrator intones: "Scozzafava or Owens? That's like asking Paterson or Pelosi".

The Club, as first reported on the Fix's Twitter feed -- don't follow us? You are missing out -- is dropping $250,000 on a combination of radio and television ads designed to boost Conservative party nominee Doug Hoffman.

Democrats have fretted -- privately -- for months that Paterson's shockingly low poll numbers (one in five voters approve of the job he is doing, two-thirds of Democrats(!)! would prefer he not run for re-election in 2010 -- would serve as an anchor around the feet of endangered House members and state legislative candidates next November.

Those worries led the White House to dispatch political director Patrick Gaspard to New York last month to huddle with Paterson about his political future. Paterson emerged from that meeting defiant that he would stay in the race, a stance he re-iterated during a recent appearance on "Meet the Press". (Yesterday, Paterson told the one and only Liz Benjamin that he can beat former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani despite polling suggesting he trails Hizzoner badly.)

If the Club ad moves numbers -- a new poll by Siena College put Scozzafava in the lead with 35 percent followed by Owens at 28 percent and Hoffman at 16 percent -- the chatter about pushing Paterson aside will only grow.

As of today, there are six Democratic-held New York congressional districts -- the 13th, 19th, 20th, 24th, 25th and 29th -- ranked as competitive by political handicapper Charlie Cook.

If Democrats lose the 23rd special election, which is set for Nov. 3, you can bet that Republicans will immediately begin producing ads linking each of those members to Paterson -- no matter the tenuousness of that connection.

By Chris Cillizza  |  October 1, 2009; 12:30 PM ET
Categories:  Governors , House  
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Posted by: JakeD | October 4, 2009 9:21 AM | Report abuse

That ignores how the LEFT demonized Gov. Palin, including but not limited to our gracious host referring to her as a "Artic Devil".

Posted by: JakeD | October 1, 2009 5:54 PM | Report abuse

Jake, the distinction is that she-who-must-be-obeyed is *their* Devil Woman. But you'll recall that after the election, several members of the GOP establishment slammed Palin for the ticket's failure, so I think there is evidence that they are willing to push her off the back of the sleigh to divert the wolves.

Posted by: margaretmeyers | October 1, 2009 5:37 PM | Report abuse

I think this ad will work effectively. It's tying Owens & Scozzafava in the same category as Pelosi & the ever unpopular Gov. Patterson. They are also building Hoffman up as the true conservative in the race. This aims to rally Republican & Conservative support to Hoffman. Meanwhile, the Club hopes here to split democratic & democratic leaning independent support between Scozzafava and Owens. Here the Club & Hoffman hopes to rally the right to vote for him in droves while spliting democratic support between Scozzafava & Owens. This ad also hopes to draw a large number of independent voters dissatisfied with the out of control spending of Pelosi & congress to vote for Hoffman. If Hoffman can rally 3/4 of the Republican party, split the independent vote into 1/3 and split the Democratic party vote and get about 35% to vote for Scozzafava Hoffman can win this election by a comfortable margin. This is my breakdown of the ad and I think it can be marginally effective.

Posted by: reason5 | October 1, 2009 3:28 PM | Report abuse

I'm not sure you can pinpoint some general distaste for women as the reasoning for Republicans' targeting of Nancy Pelosi as opposed to Harry Reid. Just as important in making a boogeyman out of Pelosi is the fact that she represents the San Francisco area, which I'm sure is as frightening for a die-hard conservative as certain areas of the South are for die-hard liberals.

Posted by: GJonahJameson | October 1, 2009 3:20 PM | Report abuse

If ordinary people voted the opposite of what the Club for Growth advises you, you will do your own pocketbooks well. They should be called the Advocates for Welfare for CEO's.

Posted by: Gator-ron | October 1, 2009 2:38 PM | Report abuse

cfg is willing to piss in the wheaties even if a Dem benefits as a result.'

never heard that one, teehee.

Posted by: drindl | October 1, 2009 2:17 PM | Report abuse


You've already forgotten about HILLARY-Care?

Posted by: JakeD | October 1, 2009 1:59 PM | Report abuse

blarg writes
"If the ad is successful, it will pull voters from the Republican Scozzafava (who I assume is moderate) to the right-wing Hoffman. The kind of person who'd vote for the Conservative Party candidate likely hates Paterson and Pelosi already; that's the whole point of the ad."

Sure looks like a Club for Growth power play: a clear message to the GOP that if the party doesn't nominate club-approved candidates, the cfg is willing to piss in the wheaties even if a Dem benefits as a result.

Perhaps they view Scozzafava's lead as safe enough that they can run such ads to make a point about 2010 candidates. Even then, if Owens wins, he'll only have a few months in office before facing reelection. Seems like a relatively safe bet for the CfG if they can make their point with the party & have more influence about who runs for the GOP in subsequent elections.

Posted by: bsimon1 | October 1, 2009 1:54 PM | Report abuse

"But I think margaret is onto something as weell.

Posted by: drindl"

Yeah, remember how they went hard after Hillary Clinton? Like well before she was even in the Presidential picture? I never really understood it at the time. Why go so hard after someone who is simply the wife of a President? It makes more sense now given all the Pelosi stuff. Hell, they don't even go after Reid that hard and he should be the higher profile guy.

Posted by: DDAWD | October 1, 2009 1:49 PM | Report abuse


You mean (an arctic) "Devil Woman" like Sarah Palin?

Posted by: JakeD | October 1, 2009 1:46 PM | Report abuse

I know, blarg -- it's just pushing the usual buttons. or rather using a conditioned stimulus -- pavlov used a metrnome, the Rs use Pelosi, Chavez, Abenijad, etc -- to acheive the desired response.

But I think margaret is onto something as weell.

Posted by: drindl | October 1, 2009 1:42 PM | Report abuse

If the ad is successful, it will pull voters from the Republican Scozzafava (who I assume is moderate) to the right-wing Hoffman. The kind of person who'd vote for the Conservative Party candidate likely hates Paterson and Pelosi already; that's the whole point of the ad. It won't convince Democrats or moderates to vote for Hoffman. Even if the ad raises Hoffman's numbers, that says nothing about Paterson.

Posted by: Blarg | October 1, 2009 1:34 PM | Report abuse

Excuse the gratuitous 't' in Gov. Paterson's name!

Posted by: sverigegrabb | October 1, 2009 1:16 PM | Report abuse

It's an easy choice for Spitzer to run for governor. And in a switcheroo, Gillebrand can run for Lt. Gov. and Paterson for Senator. I'm just keeeeeeeeeeeeeeeding...

Thank you, Ferrocito.


Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | October 1, 2009 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Nancy Pelosi is just another in that string of Devil Women the GOP likes to create. My personal theory is the guys who work in this area for the GOP all had a really tough time with toilet training, so they hate women in authority.

Posted by: margaretmeyers | October 1, 2009 1:14 PM | Report abuse


This is so generic, so R. playbook--it might work, it might not. I think fewer voters in NY will be moved by the Pelosi connection than by the Patterson connection.

Let's hope Patterson -- dare I say this? -- sees the light and eventually drops out before he does major damage. As for Rudy: if he's 'measuring the curtains', as they say, he and his decorator had better pray that Cuomo doesn't run!

Posted by: sverigegrabb | October 1, 2009 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Anyone this shockingly selfish deserves the poll numbers he has. This is the true politician in the worst way--someone who is willing to destroy his environment for his own selfish reasons. He's a plague, and I'm not even a New Yorker.

Posted by: PoliticalPragmatist | October 1, 2009 12:58 PM | Report abuse

You're right about that shrink. Not a democrat I know wants Paterson to run. He's awful and he's stubborn on top of it. But I would still vote for him over the loony sex addict Guiliani.

It's weird the fixation/obssession the Rs have on Nancy Pelosi. I would guess most americans don't even know who she is.

Posted by: drindl | October 1, 2009 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Surely this is Spitzer's poison pill.
I'll bet he is laughing, "Miss me now?"

Surely one of the things that sank McCain was public horror over the possibility of a Palin POTUS, should the old man buy the farm.

But I'll bet no one figured Elliot was compromised.

Let that be a lesson for all; nowadays, you really have to think hard about #2 on the ticket. Choosing running mates for symbolic purposes can hoist a party by its own undergarment.

Posted by: shrink2 | October 1, 2009 12:50 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: JakeD | October 1, 2009 12:42 PM | Report abuse

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