For all the money that national conservative groups poured into the race for the 23rd Congressional District, their candidate lost. That is the undeniable bottom line. There is a costly lesson here for interlopers who think New Yorkers can be so swayed by a barrage of advertising that they will forget what they stand for, and what they want and don't want in a representative.
Doesn't that look like the writer is saying that the Hoffman candidacy was somehow an invention of "national conservative groups" and "interlopers?" But my impression was that the national attention and money didn't start flowing until the grass-roots insurgency got their attention, and that Hoffman was gaining strength before his discovery by the national movement over the last month of the campaign.
The writer goes so far as to claim that Dede Scozzafava, the failed Republican nominee, and actually an appointee of county bosses rather than a winner of a proper primary, "might have pulled this one out for the GOP" if not for Conservative interference. This seems to ignore the fact that a majority of Republicans had repudiated Scozzafava, fairly or not, by the time she suspended her campaign and endorsed the Democratic candidate. At the same time, the editorialist offers the election as proof that movement ideologues can never win in New York. While I'm happy to note that they haven't, I wouldn't be objective if I didn't admit that Hoffman's performance shows that they could well win in some parts of the state.
"If the 23rd Congressional District race proves anything," the editorial concludes, "it's that politicians can't force their values on voters." This is a strange statement. We live in a democratic republic, after all, so the statement should be a truism. Yet I can't help inferring that, in the writer's mind, a Hoffman victory would have meant that politicians had somehow forced their values on voters. Would that have meant that people had been forced to vote for him? Meanwhile, did Bill Owens force his values on voters? Given that some liberal commentators considered him less liberal than Scozzafava, I'm not actually sure of what Owens's values are. Or does the writer mean that Hoffman's values might have been forced on voters through the dread vehicle of paid political advertising? If so, I must note that Owens didn't exactly take a vow of poverty this fall, and didn't exactly turn away support from "interlopers." In the end, the only coherent thought I could take away from this editorial was that the writer believed that Doug Hoffman represented some kind of alien ideology unsuited to the soil of northern New York. But like it or not, 45% of the vote testifies otherwise. That's not an endorsement of Hoffman or his movement. That's just the facts.