The Weekly Standard's Bill Kristol is reporting that Oklahoma Congressman and former NRCC Chairman Tom Cole will be endorsing Doug Hoffman, the Conservative Party candidate in the NY-23 special election.
Kristol: Former NRCC Chair Tom Cole Endorses Hoffman in NY-23
THE WEEKLY STANDARD has learned that veteran and widely-respected Rep. Tom Cole (R, Okla.), former chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee and a member of the GOP Steering Committee and a Deputy GOP House Whip, will be endorsing Doug Hoffman in the NY-23 race.
This is significant. Cole is a conservative, but not a fire-breathing and bomb-throwing one. He's a shrewd political operative, and indeed made a living as one before becoming a congressman. He'll say in his statement that one reason he's endorsing Hoffman is that he's the one Republican who can win next Tuesday.
The GOP establishment's united front behind Dede Scozzafava is crumbling--along, apparently, with her campaign.
This certainly is an unexpected surprise. Tom Cole, as Kristol observed, is not the most conservative congressman around, much less in Oklahoma. The tide is rising for Doug Hoffman, in a race that has become quite an anomaly.
The NY-23 incumbent, a Republican, was appointed to a post in the Obama administration, causing a special election. Dede Scozzafava is the Republican nominee (picked by party officials), Bill Owens is the Democrat pick, and Doug Hoffman is running on the Conservative Party ticket (New York has an interesting background with third parties).
Scozzafava (a state assembly member) is an extremely liberal Republican, who has won awards from Planned Parenthood and was endorsed by various Republican Party leaders (such as Minority Leader John Boehner and Newt Gingrich), and ironically, the founder of the ultra-left Daily Kos website.
Hoffman, on the other hand, has been endorsed by the Club for Growth, Fred Thompson, Sarah Palin, Tim Pawlenty, talk show hosts Limbaugh, Hannity and Beck, Dick Armey, and many others.
NY-23 is a traditionally Republican district, and rarely does the GOP nominee receive less than 60% of the vote. However, due to the three strong candidates in the race, the election is a toss-up. In the latest poll, Hoffman held a narrow lead with 31%, Owens at 27% and Scozzafava at 20%. Previously, Owens and Scozzafava had been trading the lead around 30%, with Hoffman at 20-25%, but that was before Sarah Palin and several other conservative heavyweights endorsed the Conservative Party candidate.
UPDATE: Here's the text from Tom Cole's email announcement sent out earlier today.
Due to the vagaries of local politics two Republicans are on the ballot in the special election in NY-23. Doug Hoffman, the conservative, clearly represents the main stream values and positions of the Republican Party. He opposes the stimulus, cap and trade, card check, the Democratic health care bill and the Obama Administration's reckless spending binge. He is a pro-life fiscal conservative who is committed to restraining the growth of government. And Hoffman is committed to fighting and winning the war in Afghanistan.And there you have it.
Doug Hoffman is right on the critical issues facing America -- and he is the only Republican who can win this special election. For those reasons I have chosen to endorse Mr. Hoffman and my leadership PAC has contributed to his campaign. I look forward to working with Doug in Congress and welcoming him into the Republican Conference.