Preparing for Battle: NY Congressional Dist. 23

Now that Congressman John McHugh has been tapped as Secretary of the Army by President Obama (and there is little doubt he’ll be confirmed), the race has begun for his seat in the House.  Though Congressional District 23 is one of the largest (and most underrepresented) districts in the nation, in general, this isn’t one that people pay much attention to.  Except, this isn’t like a normal race, is it?  With the Democrats in total control of two of the three branches of government, Republicans are hoping to keep this seat, and perhaps even strengthen it.  Dems, meanwhile, would love to tighten their hold on the House by replacing McHugh with one of their own.  And, of course, for political junkies, it’s the only game in town.  All of which is to say that the NY-23 race is, in fact, being watched on a national level.

For now, I’m not overly interested in what the Democrats are doing with this.  Speculation is that State Senator Darryl Aubertine will be the (D) nominee.  And, certainly, GOP leadership seems to be looking for a candidate who can beat him. 

According to the Adirondack Daily Enterprise, the Republicans may select a candidate as soon as this week.  Now, Republicans are touting the fact that they are keeping the candidate-selection process very, very open and ethical.  Which, I suppose they are, at least as much as is possible without actually getting the voters involved.  The primary selection will actually be made by a weighted vote by the GOPchairs in the district’s eleven counties.  Because of this, it’s pretty hard for the average voter to get to know the candidates until after the selection is made and the GOP starts reformulating their message for the voting public. 

More information about the candidates will be posted to this blog, hopefully within the next day or two.  Even now, there are clear frontrunners, according to the media; and a source within the county GOP seems to confirm, at least for herself, that the two frontrunners are moderate Dede Scozzafava and the more evidently Conservative Paul Maroun.  However, there are other options as well, such as the 26-year-old Josh Lynch.  Though he’s young, and this would be his first elected office, the Conservative Lynch is no stranger to election politics, or even to Washington DC.  Lynch worked with Sam Brownback as an assistant, and during Brownback’s presidential bid.

It would be, I suppose, too much to hope that the District GOP would flout what has become known as “conventional wisdom” here.  I say that because, though actual conventional wisdom is based on what has been proven to work, recent GOP “conventional wisdom,” has been proven specifically to NOT work.  It is this new “wisdom,” for example, which suggests we need a moderate to win and keep the seat.  Since, you know, that worked out so well with McCain.

Moreover, we should not be merely thinking about winning this seat back, but about helping to effect change in Washington.  It should be remembered that the overregulation we’re experiencing, the quickly-passed and worthless “stimulus” package and the overbearing and equally pointless “Cap & Trade” bills are the works of liberals and moderates.   “Conventional Wisdom” can say what it wants; Common Sense says introducing more of the same to Washington will not bring about positive change and could, in fact, just make it worse.

This is going to be a tough battle for the North Country.  North Country politics, as I’ve learned since my arrival here about four years ago, is often about short-term reciprocation rather than solid, long-term solutions.  When talking with many voters in Northern New York, there appears to be a disconnect between stated values and the actual voting process.  Person A may better fit the political values of a voter, but the vote will often go to Person B, who “has done a lot for the area.”  Unfortunately, what is often unseen is how those good works in the name of the home county will actually effect the voters with regard to both finances and liberty.  If a politician, for example, signed something that brought a hundred jobs to such-and-such county, a voter may not notice, or may even wilfully ignore that the same politician also signed a whole bunch of taxes and regs into law which prevented them from getting raises, decreased their benefit packages or even lost jobs for the county.

And it is this, in part, which gives rise to the idea that we need moderates in order to win.  The GOP, clueless as usual about what goes on in the minds of voters, takes this willingness to see only the positives as a rejection of Conservative values.  They allow Democrats and the media to define the narrative about what the voters want, without actually listening to the voters themselves.  On the other hand, if the GOP leadership would listen — really listen — to the average voter, they would realize that results are important, but that the voters also need to be educated in what really happens in a way that the media — the outlet charged, in the minds of many voters, with that task — simply won’t do.

The fact is, here in District 23, the GOP can run a Conservative, and win.  But they need to be willing to take on the Democrats who try to define the message.  They need to show how what looks like a boon for the North Country isn’t always what it seems, and that though even liberal politicians can occasionally make good decision, these are far outweighed by those decisions which fly directly in the face of North Country values.

(cross-posted at SLC Republitarian)