In New Jersey, “union brass knuckles were not enough to carry” New Jersey’s Democratic Governor “over the finish line,” but union support likely made the difference in Bill Owens narrow victory in New York’s 23rd congressional district. Earlier today (Tuesday), when I heard on the news that with Dede Scozzafava’s endorsement meant of the Democrat meant that unions which had previously been divided were now united behind Owens, I felt a disturbance in the force.
The good feeling I had about today’s elections was tarnished a bit. Given the haphazard nature of Hoffman’s campaign, I doubted he had the chance to organize a good ground game, essential to victory in a special election. He may have the enthusiasm, but the unions had the organization. It seems to have paid off. As did Rahm Emanuel’s gamble.
Something else too may have hurt Hoffman. The media attempt to portray him as a right-wing extremist surely hurt him with libertarian voters in the district. They made Scozzafava out to be a moderate and attributed conservative dissatisfaction with the one-time GOP nominee to her “moderate” stands on social issues and not her liberal positions on fiscal one.
The Scozzafava endorsement clearly helped; Owens was leading in Jefferson County, her “strongest territory.” Given that he has represented the area, she has certainly earned the affection of many of her constiuents.
A disappointment, to be sure, but a reminder that, in special election, organization matters.
And as to Nick’s point, I’ll just say that I think Congressman-elect Owens arrives neutered by the results in the Garden State and the margin in the Old Dominion. The political class can’t ignore that the Washington Post’s best efforts notwithstanding, Bob McDonnell won Fairfax County, being, I believe, the first Republican to do so this century. His victory, in short, does nothing to advance the Obama agenda.
While Owens may not have run as far behind Obama as did Corzine and Deeds, he did run three points behind the Democratic presidential nominee.