WASHINGTON (CNN) - Just four days after professing ignorance about the special election in New York's 23rd congressional district, Tim Pawlenty changed course Monday and decided to endorse Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman instead of the Republican in the race.
Pawlenty's move follows decisions by other prominent national conservatives - including Sarah Palin, Fred Thompson, Dick Armey and Rick Santorum - to line up against the GOP candidate, Dede Scozzafava. They and other activists on the right have accused Scozzafava of being too liberal for the GOP, and are throwing resources and support to Hoffman.
The Minnesota governor, who is courting conservatives as he mulls a possible 2012 presidential bid, made his endorsement in an e-mail to the blog RedState.
"We cannot send more politicians to Washington who wear the Republican jersey on the campaign trail, but then vote like Democrats in Congress on issues like card check and taxes," Pawlenty said in the statement. "After reviewing the candidates' positions, I'm endorsing Doug Hoffman in New York's special election. Doug understands the federal government needs to quit spending so much, will vote against tax increases, and protect key values like the right to vote in private in union elections."
Last Thursday, after a fundraiser in Washington, Pawlenty told reporters he wasn't following the race and declined to make an endorsement.
"You know I haven't been following that, I haven't studied the race at all," he said at the time. "It's not that I would or wouldn't, I just don't know anything about it. I haven't taken the time to study their positions, their records, so I haven't taken a position on it."
Scozzafava and Hoffman are on the ballot along with Democrat Bill Owens. Election Day is November 3.
UPDATE: A Pawlenty aide reports that the governor's recently-created "Freedom First" political action committee will donate $2,400 to the Hoffman campaign, the maximum contribution allowed. The gift marks the PAC's first donation since it was formed earlier this month.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Sarah Palin and Tim Pawlenty, two Republicans widely viewed as possible 2012 White House hopefuls, weighed in Thursday night on the closely-watched special election in New York's 23rd congressional district. They chose very different approaches - but neither endorsed the GOP candidate.
Calling it a matter of principle, Palin - the 2008 GOP vice presidential candidate - bucked her party and enthusiastically endorsed Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman over Republican Dede Scozzafava. The race has attracted national attention, especially from grassroots activists who accuse Scozzafava of not being conservative enough to run under the Republican party mantle.
"Doug Hoffman stands for the principles that all Republicans should share: smaller government, lower taxes, strong national defense, and a commitment to individual liberty," the former Alaska governor wrote on her Facebook page. "Political parties must stand for something."
Palin then urged her supporters to donate to Hoffman, who she said "has not been anointed by any political machine."
Just minutes before she made the announcement, Pawlenty happened to be speaking to reporters in Washington after a fundraiser for his new political action committee. The Minnesota governor refused to make an endorsement when asked about the race.
"You know I haven't been following that, I haven't studied the race at all," he said. "It's not that I would or wouldn't, I just don't know anything about it. I haven't taken the time to study their positions, their records, so I haven't taken a position on it."
(CNN) - If Democrat Bill Owens manages to claim victory in next month's special congressional election in upstate New York, he'll have some unlikely benefactors to thank.
In an echo of the Sen. Arlen Specter-Pat Toomey fight that prompted the Pennsylvania senator to abandon the GOP - many of the toughest attacks on the Republican nominee, state assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava, are coming from voters who identify themselves as conservatives. The catcalls from the right became a chorus Thursday, with simultaneous noon editorials from major conservative media outlets - including the National Review, Washington Times, and RedState.com - all calling on Scozzafava to withdraw from the race, citing a run-in earlier this week with a conservative journalist.
The GOP candidate, said the Washington Examiner, "should withdraw from the special election campaign for New York's 23rd congressional district. And donors to the Republican National Committee (RNC) and the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), which funded Scozzafava, should demand their money back."
The national party re-affirmed its support for Scozzafava. "The NRCC supports Dede in this race," said National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Paul Lindsay. "We will continue to remind central and northern New Yorkers that a vote for Doug Hoffman or Bill Owens is a vote for Nancy Pelosi and her far left, radical agenda."
Both Owens and Scozzafava - but particularly the Republican candidate - have been hit hard by conservatives backing third-party candidate Doug Hoffman, who has now pulled within single digits of the GOP's pick in the most recent survey of district voters.
The campaign for this House seat is the latest display of disaffection from the conservative base over the national GOP's recent candidate recruitment efforts. Hoffman has nabbed the backing of New York's Conservative Party, which generally supports Republican nominees – a nod that, in a state where candidates can run under multiple party lines, can often provide the edge in narrow races.
(Update after the jump: Sarah Palin weighs in)
(CNN) - The conservative Club for Growth is taking aim at both the Democratic and Republican candidates running in the special election to fill former New York Rep. John McHugh's seat.
The group, which has already backed third-party candidate Doug Hoffman, is spending $250,000 on radio and TV ads targeting Democrat Bill Owens and Republican Dede Scozzafava.
Hoffman registered 16 percent in the Siena poll released Thursday. Scozzafava draws 35 percent in the same survey, and the well-funded Owens takes 28 percent.
(CNN) - Republican state assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava appears to have the advantage in the race to fill the U.S. House seat from New York formerly held by John McHugh, now the Secretary of the Army.
According to a new survey from Siena College released Thursday, Scozzafava has a 7-point lead over Democrat Bill Owens, 35-28 percent, in next month's special congressional election in the state's 23rd district.
Doug Hoffman, a conservative third-party candidate who has won some high profile national endorsements, registers 16 percent in the poll.
The district encompasses a broad swath of upstate New York and bends solidly Republican. McHugh won his 2008 reelection race by nearly a 2-1 margin.