Palin splits with GOP on congressional race

The former governor endorses a more conservative third-party candidate over her own party's choice

By Alex Koppelman

Published October 23, 2009 2:45PM (EDT)

Sometimes, rumors really do turn out to be true. Like the one that was going around on Thursday, which had former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin bucking her party and throwing her weight behind Doug Hoffman, a third-party candidate running in a special election to fill a congressional seat in upstate New York, instead of doing the traditional thing and endorsing the Republican in the race.

"I am very pleased to announce my support for Doug Hoffman in his fight to be the next Representative from New York's 23rd Congressional district. It's my honor to endorse Doug and to do what I can to help him win, including having my political action committee, SarahPAC, donate to his campaign the maximum contribution allowed by law," Palin wrote on her Facebook page. "Doug Hoffman is committed to ending the reckless spending in Washington, D.C. and the massive increase in the size and scope of the federal government. He is also fully committed to supporting our men and women in uniform as they seek to honorably complete their missions overseas.

"And best of all, Doug Hoffman has not been anointed by any political machine."

The campaign has turned into an intra-party squabble on a national level, as conservative opinion-makers, activists and politicians have come out strongly against Republican Party candidate Dede Scozzafava, saying she's too liberal. The campaign may prove to be an important test for the GOP as it chooses its candidates for the midterm elections in 2010, and may ultimately lead to the party going further to the right than it might have otherwise.

Palin certainly seemed to call for that in her endorsement of Hoffman. She went after the GOP and its leaders, writing:

Political parties must stand for something. When Republicans were in the wilderness in the late 1970s, Ronald Reagan knew that the doctrine of "blurring the lines" between parties was not an appropriate way to win elections. Unfortunately, the Republican Party today has decided to choose a candidate who more than blurs the lines, and there is no real difference between the Democrat and the Republican in this race. This is why Doug Hoffman is running on the Conservative Party's ticket.

Republicans and conservatives around the country are sending an important message to the Republican establishment in their outstanding grassroots support for Doug Hoffman: no more politics as usual.

Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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2009 Elections Doug Hoffman Sarah Palin War Room