Washington (CNN) – Conservatives declaring victory in New York's 23rd congressional district are way off base - and outsiders like himself shouldn't have any say over the local party's decisions, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele told reporters the morning after the GOP lost the district for the first time in over a century to Democrat Bill Owens.
Steele, celebrating the GOP's twin gubernatorial wins at RNC headquarters in Washington, was defending his own decision to back Dede Scozzafava - the embattled local Republican pick who drew conservative attacks - until she left the race in the campaign's final weekend.
Of course, plenty of other high-profile Republicans did weigh in on the race, including Fred Thompson, Sarah Palin, and Tim Pawlenty, all of whom backed Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman before Scozzafava's exit. The GOP infighting in NY-23 "serves as an important lesson on how we manage an opportunity to win a seat - and how not to..." said Steele, who vowed to "get that seat back" in 2010.
"I don't see a victory in losing seats," said Steele. "…I want more Republicans, I don't buy that we somehow find victory in defeat."