This teleconference about the NY-23 race was a bit of a jumble. It featured a Rep from the Doug Hoffman campaign, Dede Scozzafava’s former spokesman, and a couple of bloggers all talking and answering questions. What follows are my notes, not quotes, from the teleconference (Two quotes from the teleconference are listed. Both are in blockquotes.:
Matt Burns, spokesman for Dede Scozzafava campaign: I wanted to elect a Republican first and foremost to help stop Nancy Pelosi. I worked hard to help Dede Scozzafava and thought, when she decided to drop out, she was going to endorse Hoffman. She should have done that. Since she didn’t do it, I am supporting Hoffman.
Newt made a statement I agree with. As we go into 2010, I do think the party needs to be willing to embrace moderates in certain districts, particularly in the North East.
Question: How did the NRCC and the RNC get it so wrong?
I don’t know that they did. The local Republican Party picked Dede Scozzafava and the national party backed her.
Question from me: We’ve been hearing a number tossed around: the NRCC spent $900,000 on the campaign. Can you confirm?
I can’t confirm that. I can tell you that they spent a considerable amount.
Rob Ryan, spokesman for the Hoffman campaign: I want to thank the bloggers. I feel bad for Matt and the position he found himself in. Dede Scozzafava is a Democrat. You can see that now by her endorsement.
ACORN and the unions are working in this district. We are worried about ballot forgery.
“We would like to see a clean, legal election because if that’s the case, we win.”
Joe Biden is coming down tomorrow. We’re going to ask why he didn’t bring Nancy along.
Question: How many Dede Scozzafava Republicans are coming over to you?
They were starting to come over before she dropped out, but most of them have come over. Most of Dede’s supporters have come over. We do need more people. We need more warm bodies. We need lawyers.
Question from me: What is the RNC and NRCC doing for you since the NRCC dropped out?
They are doing whatever they can to help legally. We’ve talked about press issues and just had a meeting before.
Question: Are the voters getting any mixed messages from the NRCC supporting Dede before and now supporting you?
We don’t think so. We’re the outsiders. We have robocalls from Rudy Giuliani coming in for the district. Fred and Jerri Thompson are coming in, too.
Can you quantify what advantage Owens might get from having union support?
The unions were supporting Dede because her husband was a union organizer. Now they’ve gone home to the Democrat.
Blogger Robert Stacy McCain who has been in town a couple of weeks: NY-23 is the largest district east of the Mississippi river. It’s huge. It’s very rural. Everybody hears New York, but it’s not a liberal district.
This is a 2-to-1 Republican district, but Scozzafava’s name will still be on the ballot.
Question: What about the ground game?
The Democrats are extremely organized. They have a strong ground game. The Hoffman campaign has a strong phone bank game, but it has been shut down because they have already blanketed the district and we don’t want to overdo it.
Question: What will turnout look like?
It’s a local election in an off-year. Normally, you’d expect it to be a low turnout year. The Hoffman people think that helps them because committed conservatives will turn out. The Democrats have poured in a million dollars’ worth of attack ads on him at the end. So, that could suppress turnout.
Consultant Ali Akbar:
“Doug Hoffman is the most socially awkward guy I’ve ever seen.”
Dede told some of her friends she wasn’t going to endorse Owens, but she lied to them.
Wrap-Up: The long and short of it seems to be that Hoffman appears to be in pretty good shape, but there’s enough uncertainty caused by Dede Scozzafava’s endorsement of the Democrat, fears of cheating, and what sounds like a superior Democratic ground game to leave the outcome in doubt.