Politico has a fascinating story of the lengths to which Democrats went to secure Dede Scozzafava’s endorsement of Democrat Bill Owens in the special election in New York’s 23rd congressional district tomorrow. The effort in involved the White House Chief of Staff, New York State’s senior senator, the Speaker of the New York Assembly, the chair of the state Democratic Party and other heavy hitters. They even dispatched a Long Island Democratic Congressman to the district to meet with the one-time Republican candidate.
And this must be causing a lot of angst in the West Wing. Because it’s pretty clear that White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel was behind his boss’s choice to tap then-Congressman John McHugh as Army Secretary, making his seat ripe for Democratic picking:
Obama won NY-23 last year by five points. So in an open seat race this year, a Democrat should have a good shot. Indeed, that’s precisely why Obama plucked the popular Republican incumbent from the seat to be his Army secretary — Rahm thought it was a likely pick-up.
With Dede’s endorsement, that task seemed easier. But, should the Democrat now lose, the White House will have major egg on its face, particularly as Administration officials decrying Hoffman’s success as a sign of the extremism of and rise of the “absolutists” in the GOP.
Seems citizens of this district won by Obama prefer extreme absolutists to the Administration’s man.
Rahm Emanuel may be crowing about locking down the Scozzafava endorsement, but he may not realize that people don’t always respond to the type of back room political deals he orchestrates. Chicago politics don’t play all that well in rural strongholds. Just by securing a candidate’s endorsement doesn’t mean you win all her voters.
His strategy of padding the Democratic majority appears to be backfiring.
Of course the polls could be wrong.