Prelude to Republican Fratricide

By David Frum

The Week – Thursday, October 22, 2009

GOP candidates in New York and New Jersey should be cruising to victory this November. But angry conservatives would rather hand power to Democrats than help moderate Republicans win.

At the beginning of the summer, most observers expected Republicans to win all three of the big elections on Nov. 3. Two weeks out, it suddenly looks very possible that Republicans will win only one: the Virginia governor’s race. The other two will be lost-not to superior Democratic organizing and messaging, but to the GOP’s own divisions.

By all rights, the special election in New York’s 23rd Congressional District should be a Republican cakewalk. Stretching across the hunting and fishing towns along the Great Lakes and Canadian border, the district contains Fort Drum, base of the 10th Mountain division, and re-elected its Republican congressman in the disaster years of 2006 and 2008 by margins of 60-plus percent.

Yet polls show the Republican candidate in serious trouble. State Republican Party leaders prevented an open primary race and instead engineered the nomination of one of their own, moderate, pro-choice Assemblywoman Deirdre Scozzafava.

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