Up in the New York 23rd, the Conservative Party is splitting the Republican vote, by running Doug Hoffman against pro-choice GOP candidate Dede Scozzafava and the Democrat, Bill Owens. Palin is endorsing Hoffman and donating money, defying the GOP which just nominated her for vice president, insisting that “there is no real difference between the Democrat and the Republican in this race”. Michelle Bachmann has also endorsed Hoffman; the one major Republican speaking out publicly for Scozzafava is Gingrich. Currrently Scozzafava is 8 points ahead of Hoffman but 5 behind Owens – if Hoffman weren’t in the race, the Republicans would have this one in hand.
This could be more than just Palin seeking attention and helping to flack her new book. For months mainstream Republicans have been ridiculing Palin behind her back, blaming her for sinking McCain last year, ignoring her offers for campaign help, and giving her the “don’t call us we’ll call you” answer with respect to supporting her for the GOP nomination in 2012. What if she intends to pay back the Republicans by running for president on a third-party ticket? She would transform instantly from has-been punch-line to Queen of the Wingnuts.
As I mentioned on 20 October, there are a number of reasons why the wingnuts and teabaggers could conceivably split off and formalize their own political movement, independent of the GOP.
…and Palin would be their ideal leader. Watch to see if she starts showing up at the teabag events, or schmoozing with the Club For Growth people, or the Constitution Party or the Boston Tea Party. She would want to piggy-back off an organization that is already going (the Constitution party did get on the presidential ballot in 37 states last time), and she would want to do something a bit early, perhaps after the midterms, to work on petitions, ballot access, fundraising etc. There might also be some clues in her book.
Please please please let her run a third-party candidacy!
The thing is, if she did run in 2012, she could actually take some states in the electoral college, particularly in what I call “Planet Wingnut”, the racist we-hate-Obama belt running through the Appallachians and then over the river into Louisiana and Texas. Conceivably she could take Alabama, Mississippi, Oklahoma. But everything she took would come from the GOP nominee. And she could also cause the GOP to lose a lot of close states like Missouri, Indiana, Virginia and North Carolina.
Let’s start a draft movement! Get her on the ballot!
(Here’s a scary thought – could the Blue Dog Democrats also split off? Naah. They generally live in red states where they would be crushed easily – but they could cause Democrats trouble just by running for office. And who would they run nationally? Evan Bayh? Lieberman??)
Also, this New York race is just a dress rehearsal for the Florida Senate contest. Down south, rightwing Republican Rubio is running strong against moderate Charlie Crist, but polling shows that it is Crist who can beat the Democrat in the general election. This sort of fratricidal nonsense sends a dangerous message: there is no room for moderates or centrists in the GOP.