November 1st, 2009
04:00 PM ET
13 years ago

Barbour gets 'The Last Word' on NY-23, gov races

Washington (CNN) – Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour had blunt words on CNN’s State of the Union about the conservative uprising that toppled a moderate Republican candidate in New York’s 23rd Congressional District.

“They should’ve had a primary,” the former Republican National Committee chairman said of the ill-fated decision by local party leaders in upstate New York to anoint Dede Scozzafava as the establishment choice in Tuesday’s special election.

Many conservatives disagreed that Scozzafava was the right fit for the conservative district and conservative Republican Doug Hoffman decided to mount a challenge to her as the candidate of New York’s Conservative Party.

With polls showing her lagging behind Hoffman and her Democratic opponent and without sufficient fundraising to defend against attacks coming from both ends of the political spectrum, Scozzafava made the surprise announcement Saturday that she was dropping out of the special election in the longtime Republican district.

Barbour described Scozzafava as having been “endorsed by six or seven people” in the local party leadership. And the Mississippi governor faulted the New York Republican Party chairman at the time for “letting a handful of people pick somebody who is not just a liberal Republican - she’s more liberal than many of the Democrats.

“But that’s not the issue,” Barbour continued, “The issue is that people didn’t get a choice and so they didn’t feel beholden to [Scozzafava].“They should’ve had a primary. They should have let Republicans choose who they wanted to have as their nominee instead of it being inside baseball, smoke-filled room – the kind of stuff that we’ve all tried to get rid of.”

Stressing the diversity in the Republican Governors Association which he also chairs, Barbour echoed earlier comments from House Minority Leader John Boehner.

“We are a big party just like the Democrats are and in a two-party system, both parties are necessarily coalitions,” Barbour told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King.

Barbour also weighed in on the upcoming gubernatorial races in New Jersey and Virginia.

In general, Barbour said, the two gubernatorial races tend to be more about statewide issues and the individual candidates rather than national politics. But Barbour said that national issues appeared to be playing a particular role in the Virginia race and helping the Republican candidate Bob McDonnell.

“I think it’s a great overstatement to say this a referendum on President Obama,” Barbour told King, “but his policies have had a lot of effect on people’s thinking.”

Barbour also said Sunday that the current political climate in 2009 reminded him of 1993, the year before Republicans took control of the House of Representatives under the leadership of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

Filed under: Haley Barbour • NY-23 • State of the Union • Virginia
soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. Gasman

    Barbour is the ultimate GOP manifestation of the behind the scenes, "smoke-filled room" scenario he ostensibly decries. He is in no position to lecture the Republican Party of New York's 23rd district. The Republican Party has consistently maintained that local control of politics is best. Now, all of a sudden, they would have us believe that Republicans from Alaska, Minnesota, Tennessee, and now Mississippi actually know what is best for people in upstate New York.

    Now that Scozzafava has endorsed Owens the Democratic candidate, moderate Republicans can vote against Hoffman in good conscience knowing that their vote will not hurt their first choice.

    Do the voters of the 23rd district really want an ill informed carpet bagger/tea bagger like Hoffman representing them in congress? Hoffman's ideological purity is counter balanced by his utter unawaremess regarding issues that are most important to voters in the 23rd district.

    Will Palin's nascent 3rd rail, er, party be struck down before it even arises?

    November 1, 2009 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  2. Tony

    The real primary was with the polls and the fund raising. Right wing voters in NY-23 rejected Scozzofava and embraced Hoffman, as they should have.

    November 1, 2009 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  3. victim of republican greed

    The national issues in Virginia that Haley refers to, are about McDonnell's views on a woman's place in society and the rights of all individuals. As long as wingnuts embrace the simpler times of the antebellum 1800's, I really doubt there will be a large movement to turn the blue states red.

    November 1, 2009 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  4. James Michael Roberson

    Why in the world would the people of this country want to turn control of our country back to the people who have driven it into the ditch. The recent development in ny23 congressional election is just further proof that the republican party is moving to the radical right and away from the mainstream of America

    November 1, 2009 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  5. Operation Replacement

    Why do Democrats hate Palin so much? Is it because she
    speaks her mind so much? Because she won't kowtow to
    elitists? Because she's a populist? And is it local control of the
    23rd district when Democrats from Delaware, Arkansas and
    Illinois tell the whom to vote for? Practice what you preach, Gasbag.

    November 1, 2009 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  6. Keith in Austin

    The conservative movement in America grows ever-stronger every time Pelosi, Reid and Obozo show their true colors by tax and spend politics, bigger Government and their thirst for more control over our personal freedom! The GOP will prosper just fine in the elections to come.

    November 1, 2009 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  7. cm

    They should have an election for someone in their district not district 20 which is where he and his wife reside. If a democrat had pulled this the republicans would have screamed to high heavens. This man has accepted close to 500k in earmarks to the hospital where he works so what are his qualifications plus he can't even answers questions appropriately pertaining to the 23rd district. For an election that will go to Hoffman Palin is so full of ego; when a repub has held that position for 99 years. It is all about ego. They did not want a moderate repub.

    November 1, 2009 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  8. CBR

    Wow, the Governor of Mississippi is telling Republican New Yorkers how they should get candidates for office. Sometimes primary are not the best answers. In Maine, the primary election went to a conservative who could not beat the incumbent Governor.

    What happens is members of the opposing party vote in the primaries and that skews the whole election. They hope that the can get the candidate who can be beaten by their candidate.

    One would think the Republicans would be very well aware of this trend.

    November 1, 2009 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  9. Frank

    Good for NY's 23 district. They had a nobody foisted on them through backroom politics and the rejected her. They rejected a person who didn't share their views and was never voted for in a primary. Good for them standing up to the weak-willed Republican leadership.

    The best part is that Republicans in power have no idea what they are even supposed to stand for. I am glad that the voters who rejected Scozzafava by not endorsing or contributing to her campain, reminded them. It is a very conservative district, and the people got who they wanted. Good job NY-23!

    November 1, 2009 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  10. Pragmatic

    The Conservative is a carpetbagger – he doesn't even live in the district and can't vote there: he isn't running to represent the people ... just the party! He is totally clueless about local issues .... I sincerely hope the voters in this district have the backbone to make a statement and elect one of their own ... not the handpicked flunky who will kiss the conservative's ..... ring.

    November 1, 2009 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  11. Smith

    If Mr. Hoffman wanted the Republican nomination, all he had to do was file petitions with supporters signatures and he would have had his primary. It is Hoffman and his supporter's fault there was no primary, not the Republican leadership and not Dede Scozzafava's.

    The complaints about the lack of a primary are either falsehoods by national GOPers or come from a complete lack of familiarity with NY Election law. It is not very complicated but you need to show you have some support to get into a primary.

    November 1, 2009 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  12. We Won Get Over It

    I posted this before, and goodness gracious the crum of all crums agrees. Palin knows that she will never get the real republican nod. So she is running around the country supporting wingnuts like herself so she can position for a third party run. Darn is this what the grand old party has become.

    I remember real republicans like Everett Dirkson and Howard Baker and even Ike...what happened to honorable men like those.

    November 1, 2009 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  13. annie against biased news

    Both the demmies and the repubbies -the old time hard line pork barrell scratch your back you scratch mine – pewlosi, reid, mccain, graham, dodd, frank, etc. better get their heads out of the other end of their bodies. REAL AMERICAN CITIZENS ARE SICK OF THEIR MESS AND THEIR PROCESS OF TRYING TO DESTROY OUR GREAT COUNTRY!!! A vote for any demmie or any far left leaning repubbie is just another stab in the back to destroy our country.

    November 1, 2009 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  14. Walt213

    The Republican Party is the party of "NO". Now they're even saying "No" to their own moderate members. Come on New Jersey and Virginia, don't vote for the "no-men". Let's continue with the positive can-do momentum of Obama and the Democrats. Send a message to the extremist and divisive element of the Republican Party that even the Republicans can find a better way.

    November 1, 2009 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |