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Sarah Palin breaks with GOP to endorse Conservative Party candidate in N.Y. House race

October 23, 2009 | 12:44 am

Sarah Palin's PAC Page

Sarah Palin, who a few people may recall was the vice presidential candidate on last year's Republican Party ticket that crashed and burned, has broken with her party in the race for a House seat from New York and endorsed the candidate of the state's Conservative Party.

Palin announced late Thursday night that she was endorsing Doug Hoffman as, well, more conservative than the Republican Party candidate Dede Scozzafava in the race to fill New York's 23d District.

That seat was vacated by President Obama's appointment of Republican Rep. John McHugh as secretary of the Army. Hmmm.

"Doug Hoffman stands for the principles that all Republicans should share," Palin said, "smaller government, lower taxes, national defense and a commitment to individual liberty."

Palin then urged her supporters to contribute to Hoffman's third-party campaign against the establishment GOP pick that some conservatives complain is not Republican enough, a complaint sometimes also aimed at Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who thrust Palin into the political spotlight last year.

During the last two congressional elections that were so disastrous for the GOP, Republican McHugh won the 23d's House seat with ease, even as Obama beat out the Palin-what's-his-name ticket with 52% of the vote.

Palin's backing of Hoffman matches the endorsement of Hoffman by former Sen. Fred Thompson and ex-Rep. Dick Armey and puts the trio in direct conflict with former GOP House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who  has endorsed and helped Scozzafava, and the party's Washington establishment.

The schism on the right creating a three-way race may well mean that Democrat Bill Owens squeaks to a victory in the normally GOP district, a House gain that probably never even crossed the minds of political strategists in the White House when they named McHugh to the Pentagon.

The New York House race and the governor's races in Virginia and New Jersey will be closely watched as indicators of voter attitudes 10 months into the hectic Obama presidency and 12 months out from the congressional midterm elections. Hence, the White House and Democratic National Committee investing so much effort in helping their party's candidates.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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