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Dede Scozzafava and the Fix Endorsement Hierarchy

New York State Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava joins the Fix Endorsement Hierarchy. AP Photo

State Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava's (R) stunning Sunday decision to support Democrat Bill Owens over Conservative Party nominee Doug Hoffman in the special election in New York's 23rd district got us to thinking about where such a move fits into our Fix endorsement hierarchy.

The Fix endorsement hierarchy is, for the uninitiated, our attempt to catalogue and rate the different sorts of endorsement that happen in the political world. (And, yes, it is a blatant ripoff of Bill Simmons' (aka the Sports Guy) levels of losing.)

Here's a quick refresher on our Endorsement Hierarchy to date:

* The Symbolic Endorsement: Ted Kennedy backing Barack Obama during the 2008 primaries.
* The State-Specific Statewide Endorsement: Florida Gov. Charlie Crist throwing his support to John McCain just before the Sunshine State presidential primary.
* The Celebrity Endorsement: Oprah Winfrey for Obama
* The Newspaper Endorsement: Des Moines Register for John Edwards in 2004.
* The State-Specific Non-Statewide Endorsement: Former Speaker Denny Hastert (R-Ill.) backing Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R) in the Kansas Senate primary
* The Obligatory Endorsement: Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran endorsing McCain's presidential bid in 2008.
* The Non-Endorsement Endorsement: Former Virginia Gov. Doug Wilder passing on state Sen. Creigh Deeds in the 2009 Commonwealth governor's contest.
* The Pariah Endorsement: Rod Blagojevich's endorsement of Roland Burris.

To this chart, we now add -- in honor of Dede Scozzafava -- the "turnabout-is-fair-play" endorsement.

Scozzafava and Hoffman both sought the Republican nomination when Rep. John McHugh (R) announced he would leave the House to serve as Secretary of the Army in the Obama Administration. Because it was a special election there was no primary; instead a handful of county chairmen in the district selected Scozzafava over Hoffman.

Hoffman, unhappy with Scozzafava's conservative credentials -- or lack thereof -- decided to run for the seat anyway, taking advantage of New York's unique system to run on the "Conservative" party's line.

There were clearly hard feelings in the Scozzafava camp about that decision. And so, less than 24 hours after Scozzafava left the race amid faltering poll numbers, she -- with a major assist from the White House -- decided to endorse the Democrat.

Misdirection in politics (and wrestling) is always a fascinating thing. But is it a powerful thing?

In this case it remains to be seen as both sides have their talking points about the Scozzafava endorsement. Republicans note that a recent Siena poll showed that more than 60 percent of Scozzafava's supporters were self-identified GOPers; Democrats push back that the same poll showed Scozzafava backers not only held President Barack Obama in high regard but held Hoffman in decidedly low regard.

Generically, we are ranking the "turnabout-is-fair-play" endorsement below the state specific, non-statewide endorsement and above the pariah endorsement.

Unlike many of the other sorts of endorsements on our hierarchy, however, the turnabout endorsement has the potential to move up (or down) the chart depending on extenuating circumstances. For example, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson's backing of Barack Obama during the presidential primary was both turnabout and influential -- as it provided tangible evidence of former Clintonites defecting. But former Rep. Jim Leach's (R-Iowa) backing of Obama (and speech at the Democratic National Convention) barely registered on the political Richter scale.

(For more turnabout endorsements, check out this column by the Rothenberg Political Report's Nathan Gonzales.)

In this situation, Scozzafava's endorsement comes very late in the game -- less than 72 hours before voters vote -- and can be painted by her detractors as a sour grapes move motivated almost entirely by Democratic leaders at the state and national level. Add to that the fact that getting caught in the crossfire -- attacked from Democrats and the Club for Growth -- turned Scozzafava's ratings in the district into mincemeat, meaning there isn't much lingering favorability around her among voters.

At the same time, however, Scozzafava's backing keeps Owens in the game in a race that as recently as Sunday morning seemed totally over for the Democrat.

The latest poll from Siena, which was released this morning, suggests the former scenario is taking hold as Hoffman leads Owens 41 percent to 36 percent.

Win or lose tomorrow, Scozzafava has secured her place in the history books by inspiring a category all her own on the Fix endorsement hierarchy.

By Chris Cillizza  |  November 2, 2009; 10:31 AM ET
Categories:  House  
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Wayne Gilchrist already did this last year...

Does any past or future endorsement by Joe Lieberman fall into this category? I'll be hypothetical though, because everyone in Connecticut knows what Joe Lieberman says does not matter anymore (if only the Fix could help the Washington media figure this out every time Joementum has a temper tantrum). The great margins for Chris Shays and John McCain in CT in 2008 prove this.

Posted by: CTMan | November 2, 2009 10:49 PM | Report abuse

And all the sponsored ads on this page are for teeth-whitening products.


Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | November 2, 2009 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Sonicare should use Hoffman in their ads

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | November 2, 2009 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Anyone desiring to be a public figure who doesn't clean his god damned incisors absolutely deserves to be ridiculed. Goopers can get as mad as they want, and who cares since their "big tent" isn't even a pup tent anymore.

Seventeen percent.

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | November 2, 2009 3:02 PM | Report abuse

sorry Loud and Dumb. I keep overlooking your stunning ignorance. Keep trying to keep up with NAMBLA, you'll have your day.

Posted by: snowbama | November 2, 2009 2:59 PM | Report abuse

And before any of you slavering rightwingnuts spew your outrage about making fun of Hoffman's teeth, do a Google search on "Scozzafava" and "scuzzy."

Posted by: koolkat_1960 | November 2, 2009 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Photogenic -- with that mouthful of radioactive green teeth?? Maybe as the poster child for flouridated water.


That's what I meant. A Hoffman victory will flood the nation with editorial photos of Attack Chipmunk from Mars. Should accelerate the dismantling of the false image of social conservatives as attractive that briefly gained ground with photos of Palin walking on two legs.

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | November 2, 2009 2:50 PM | Report abuse

"He'll be another photogenic laughingstock"

Laughingstock -- likely.

Photogenic -- with that mouthful of radioactive green teeth?? Maybe as the poster child for flouridated water.

Posted by: koolkat_1960 | November 2, 2009 2:39 PM | Report abuse


To paraphrase John McCain, she is committed to a cause larger than herself.

It takes courage to do what Dede did, in a district where the hard-right grassroots Gestapo appears to have a strong foothold.

And it will take courage -- and a shedding of naivete -- for the Obama administration to take down this Gestapo, which is violating the constitutional and human rights of unjustly targeted, persecuted and electromagnetically TORTURED American citizens.



* "Directed energy weapons," portable units and a nationwide installation camouflaged as cell towers, induce weakness, exhaustion, physical and neurological impairment, strokes, aneurysms, cancer -- and many victims do not realize what is making them sick.

* Thousands of Americans held hostage in their own homes to police-protected, fed-supported vigilante "community policing" stalking units, equipped with warrantless GPS devices, who vandalize and terrorize unjustly "targeted individuals" and their families.

* Regional Homeland Security- administered "fusion centers" reportedly serve as command centers for covert electromagnetic radiation attacks, pervasive surveillance, financial sabotage of those identified as "dissidents," "trouble-makers" or slandered as threats to society.

* Use of microwave weaponry to torture and impair political opponents recently confirmed by deposed Honduras President Manuel Zelaya.

* Pleas for justice, to local police and FBI, go unanswered -- as do demands for a Department of Justice Civil Rights Division investigation and congressional hearings.

"These are crimes against humanity and the Constitution, being perpetrated under the cover of national security and 'safe streets' by multiple federal and local agencies and commands -- an American genocide hiding in plain sight, enabled by the naivete of those who think 'it can't happen here.'" -- Victor Livingston, former reporter for WTXF-TV Philadelphia, Phila. Bulletin, N.Y. Daily News, St. Petersburg Times; producer/host, MSG Network Sports Business Report; columnist, OR (if links are corrupted / disabled): RE: "GESTAPO USA"

Posted by: scrivener50 | November 2, 2009 2:38 PM | Report abuse

the blog belongs to NAMBLA now.

Posted by: snowbama | November 2, 2009 2:33 PM | Report abuse

"The right’s embrace of Hoffman is a double-barreled suicide for the G.O.P. On Saturday, the battered Scozzafava suspended her campaign, further scrambling the race. It’s still conceivable that the Democratic candidate could capture a seat the Republicans should own. But it’s even better for Democrats if Hoffman wins. Punch-drunk with this triumph, the right will redouble its support of primary challengers to 2010 G.O.P. candidates they regard as impure. That’s bad news for even a Republican as conservative as Kay Bailey Hutchison, whose primary opponent in the Texas governor’s race, the incumbent Rick Perry, floated the possibility of secession at a teabagger rally in April and hastily endorsed Hoffman on Thursday."

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | November 2, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

So we have the gooper cretins all over America high-fiving each other because the CANDIDATE OF THEIR OWN PARTY dropped out .. and cheering because some green-teeth caveman will get elected instead? And take note, NOBODY expects Hoffman to achieve anything in office. He'll be another photogenic laughingstock engineering diversions about abortion and gays and doing nothing at all for his constituents.

How soon before Republicans are slaughtering their own children and bragging that God is going to show them a purer and cleaner way to reproduce?

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | November 2, 2009 2:10 PM | Report abuse

I'd call it the unwed child of the toxic endorsement (riles up ones own party) and the nonstateside endorsement.


Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | November 2, 2009 1:59 PM | Report abuse

The cannibalism of Ms.Scozzafava by those who view her as "impure" is a harbinger of what is to happen to Mark Kirk. It's been done before in IL and will happen again. The upside is the party of Lincoln in the Land of Lincoln will be on the forefront of destroying said party. The moderates of the soon-to-be-dead-gop along with those Independents of the same mindset will be the base of a new, competitive political party.

Posted by: ILDem | November 2, 2009 1:39 PM | Report abuse

It isn't just the direct dollars flooding into CD23 from out-of-state interests (which has been reported to be as high as $3,000,000), it's all that friendly coverage Fox has given to Hoffman. Some publicity you pay for, other publicity comes your way. All of it dumped on the locally chosen candidate.

I have to laugh at all the conservatives harrumphing about party loyalty. You did *what* to your own party's candidate?

Posted by: margaretmeyers | November 2, 2009 1:36 PM | Report abuse

I'm thinking John Warner endorsing Ollie North's opponent in VA.

Posted by: nodebris | November 2, 2009 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Come on Chris - this type of endorsement took place last election cycle in Maryland (shockingly enough as a result of the Club for Growth's interference). Wayne Gilchrest, the incumbent Republican Congressman, got beat by Andy Harris in the Republican primary. Gilchrest turned around and endorsed the Democratic candidate, Frank Kratovil. Kratovil went on to win the extremely close election in a heavily Republican district.

Posted by: Hoya4Life | November 2, 2009 1:19 PM | Report abuse

"One year into Obama's presidency, how would you vote today?"

That's a pretty funny poll. We now know a lot more about Sarah Palin. Can't see any ticket with an old man and her on it getting many new votes.

Posted by: koolkat_1960 | November 2, 2009 1:17 PM | Report abuse

"Could you put this story in context by posting spending figures, as you have on other races? It appears that Scozzafava was badly outspent by Hoffman, with all of his out of state resources like CFG and the Militiamen."

Don't forget the foreign contributions. I hear that Germans LOVE the Hoff.

Posted by: DDAWD | November 2, 2009 1:17 PM | Report abuse

I would consider this endorsement more similar to Colin Powell's endorsement of Obama, although it certainly has elements of revenge in it. I think it ought to be called the "coss-party endorsement." As such, it's less an endorsement than a it is a refutation.

Posted by: nodebris | November 2, 2009 1:15 PM | Report abuse

"has become obvious for all but the clinical."

he identifies himself well.

Posted by: drindl | November 2, 2009 12:43 PM | Report abuse

spending never bothered drivl when it was al franken spending hollywood money to get elected in the far north. living outside your district never bothered the moonbat when carpetbagging hillary moved to NY and bacame a Yankees fan. Now corruption in congress is No Problem. Infinite deficit spending is needed. Gross incompetence in H1N1 management is overlooked. Pay for play in the WH, undetected. Indecision and ineptitude a bonus.

The loons own mud is all over its face.

The endorsement of the Democrat simply reveals what most thinking people knew all along. This R was a D in wolfs clothing. Like McCain and all the other losers from the last cycle.

The idiocy of the socialist movement and the economic and foreign policy ruination has become obvious for all but the clinical. Even the vast left wing press can't hide it anymore. Grand speeches read from teleprompters have had their 15 minutes. Fooled us once. Tomorrow starts the retribution. Even blue NJ has wised up. Even the massive money spent couldn't turn the tide of liberal failure.

Posted by: snowbama | November 2, 2009 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Andy -- indeed. Looks like Dede will switch parties.

"The results of this race are pretty much irrelevant. The seat means little in the overall balance of power in the House, and it's a seat that could be redistricted out of existence after the census. The true import of this race has already been determined -- the teabagger coup and message to the few remaining non-doctrinaire Republicans that they are no longer welcomed in their party. And the conservatives have their scalp, whether Doug Hoffman wins or loses. They are energized, and ironically, rather than aim their guns at Democrats, they are taking aim squarely at their own party.

In what could be a tough 2010, an all-out civil war inside the GOP is manna from heaven."

Posted by: drindl | November 2, 2009 11:35 AM | Report abuse

I think this may actually be a big deal. I would bet that there are a good number of moderate GOPers who don't like the fact that the national entities (ie Palin) stuck their nose in the local parties buisness. And these people vote. If they vote for Owens then he just may win. Either way I think the Democrats are jumping for joy at this turn of events.

I would also expect that Rahm Emmanuel and the Senate Dems to go to see Susan Collins (she endorsed Scozzafava) and make sure she knows that they would welcome her with open arms if she wanted to switch parties too.

Posted by: AndyR3 | November 2, 2009 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Could you put this story in context by posting spending figures, as you have on other races? It appears that Scozzafava was badly outspent by Hoffman, with all of his out of state resources like CFG and the Militiamen.

"Scozzafava appears to have spent only $26,000 so far on television advertising, and she pulled down her television buy last week in the vote-rich Syracuse media market, where she’s hardly known. She’s currently up with only a small $7,965 television buy in her home base of Watertown.

The Club for Growth has spent $146,000 with its own anti-Scozzafava ads — and has committed an additional $100,000 to the race. "

Posted by: drindl | November 2, 2009 10:55 AM | Report abuse

One year into Obama's presidency, how would you vote today?


Posted by: usadblake | November 2, 2009 10:51 AM | Report abuse

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