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Last night, Markos wrote that Republican Dede Scozzafava was "the most liberal candidate" in the 23rd congressional district race.

This doesn't surprise. A lot of people, including people here in New York, have made the same argument. Part of it has to do with a lack of research on Scozzafava. The other half of it is a lack of information on the Democratic candidate Bill Owens, who conservatives call "liberal" and some progressives like Markos have called a "Blue Dog."

After reading Markos' post multiple times, it seems he uses the following as important points for his "liberal" labeling of Scozzafava.

- She has been endorsed in the past by the very progressive Working Families Party.

- She is pro-choice and pro-marriage equality, which puts her at odds with the conservatives in the Republican Party.

- She voted to raise taxes when budgets required it.

First, those three points. The Working Families Party does endorse Republicans and allow them to run on their line. It happens, but they are more likely to back a Democratic candidate. Living in New York, my state senator is George Maziarz. He has been endorsed by the Working Families Party in the past because of his connections to people within the WFP.

For Scozzafava, being backed by the WFP can be contributed to a few things. She ran unopposed in 2008 and was not on the Working Families line when she ran for re-election in 2006. She also was not on the line in the 2002 general election. The only times since redistricting in 2002 that she appeared on the WFP line was in 2004 and 2008. In both elections, she ran unopposed. Therefore, the WFP endorsements were more by default than anything. It's not as if she had to fight for those endorsements with another candidate.

The pro-choice and pro-marriage equality positions are very good and is a breath of fresh air for a Republican. But just as we don't like it when Republicans try to define us based on social issues, we should not be guilty of the same when it comes to determining whether someone is progressive or not. Is she progressive on these issues? No doubt. But don't judge a book by its cover.

The last point of Markos: She voted to raise taxes when budgets required it. In New York, that can be seen as a good and/or bad thing. There are good taxes and fees, bad taxes and fees and others that are somewhere in between. Any good progressive in New York will tell you that not all taxes are good and that not all taxes are bad. There is a middle ground. The problem in New York is that we have had too many regressive taxes and not enough progressive taxation. So giving Scozzafava credit for being liberal on this is misguided for the reasons I have shown.

But aside from Markos' points, I also wanted to address some of the past votes Scozzafava has cast in the Assembly .

- An important issue for progressives in New York has been Rockefeller Drug Law Reform. A bill (A.6085) was passed in the Assembly and a deal was reached with both houses to reform the broken drug laws that led to extreme sentences for some of the most minor offenses. The roll call vote shows that Scozzafava voted against these reforms.

- Earlier this year, the Assembly passed a comprehensive gun package to combat gun violence and put laws in place to provide for better tracking of guns and provide for more accountability. The package includes 13 bills that were passed in the Assembly. Of those 13 bills, Scozzafava voted for only one. That bill was A.7733 and its purpose is to "Authorizes courts to revoke firearms license and seize the weapons of certain individuals." Essentially, if the person is a threat to the public, courts could take away the firearms license and weapons of that person.

It is safe to say that Scozzafava is pro-gun and clearly anti-gun control of any kind. (I would give her credit for the single "Yea" vote, but it was a unanimous vote in the Assembly. Every Republican voted for it.)

Also, keep in mind that the package came after the shootings in Binghamton, which was a national news story and led to immediate action in the Assembly.

- Scozzafava's record on the environment is mixed, at best. She voted against the Bigger Better Bottle Bill, but voted for the Green Jobs bill that was unanimously passed in the Assembly. The Assembly passed a package of environmental bills earlier this year. Of the 14 bills included in the package, Scozzafava voted for six of the bills and against eight of them. These were bills that were supported by progressives and the Democratic conference in the Assembly.

- Scozzafava voted against the Farmworkers Bill of Rights that passed the Assembly. This was seen as a pro-labor and pro-worker bill to support farm laborers who face unpleasant conditions in some instances.

- Voted against a bill that would provide additional compensation for police officers in New York City that use a foreign language in the course of their duties. She also voted against legislation that would give the attorney general jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute police misconduct.

- Voted against regulating the use of "no-knock" warrants and monitoring the use of all search warrants.

- Cast a vote against the 2010 Campaign Finance Reform Act, which would provide "for optional partial public financing of certain election campaigns in this state." (Here is more on this legislation she voted against.)

- Voted against a bill that would require restaurants (with 15 or more outlets in the U.S.) to post the caloric information of menu items. Also voted against a bill banning trans fats in restaurants.

- Voted against legislation that would strengthen New York's laws against unfair debt collection practices. Also voted against "legislation requiring debt collection firms to provide consumers a written "Debtor's Bill of Rights" along with their initial debt collection communication."

- Voted against expanding foreclosure protections. This bill included protections for tenants in property that is being foreclosed.

- Among the many areas, one area that Scozzafava seems to have a consistent record of voting "no" in is housing. This year, the Assembly has passed 20 pieces of legislation related to housing. Of those 20 bills, Scozzafava voted against several of them. The bills she voted against include: A rent increase cap, rent increases linked to inflation rate, Section 8 housing being included in rent regulation, landlord rental unit recovery, affordable housing preservation, excessive rent increase shield and expansion of the Loft Law.

The reality is this: When people say "don't judge a book by its cover", you should take their advice. The "cover" on Scozzafava was that she was this progressive Republican because she was backed by the WFP, supported a woman's right to choose and has been a supporter of marriage equality. But the "book" tells the whole story (as it usually does). Scozzafava has a few positions that are more liberal (on abortion and marriage equality) but most of her positions are, at best, moderate-to-conservative. More often than not, however, she is a conservative.

One more thing: This statement on Scozzafava's website came after President Barack Obama's health care address a couple of weeks ago. One of the ideas she pushes? Tort reform. Not exactly the progressive approach to solving the health care crisis, but it's one of the first (if not THE first) things brought up by Scozzafava.

The conclusion I draw from looking over numerous pieces of legislation is that Scozzafava on most issues is nothing more than your average Assembly Republican. Most of the votes that she did support the Democratic (or progressive) positions came when the whole Assembly voted unanimously for a bill. Scozzafava's conservative positions are not reflected in the mainstream media, where she is labeled a "liberal" because of her stances on two social issues that, while important, should never define any candidate and should never be the sole indicator of a candidate's ideology.

I see Scozzafava as someone who is far from the Glenn Becks of the world. But that doesn't mean she is not conservative. The modern-day conservative is a different breed, but a lot of what Scozzafava stands for resembles an old school conservative. At best, she's a moderate with conservative leanings. At worst, she's a conservative Republican whose liberal stances on two social issues have given her an inaccurate label.

Would she be a Susan Collins-type, as Markos suggested? Probably not. Her record has shown that she hasn't really been willing to buck the GOP party line on big issues (unless the whole GOP goes along with it). There are worse Republicans than Scozzafava, but she isn't someone I would depend on to cross party lines and vote on a Democratic (and/or progressive) issue.

Originally posted to robert harding on Fri Oct 02, 2009 at 06:39 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  On her, the general optics look good. (7+ / 0-)

    So kos jumped to the conclusion that she will be good. But they are all wolves. Look how Mittens turned out.

  •  In re: WFP line (7+ / 0-)

    I don't know about her district but in my county the WFP line is a battleground between republican operatives attempting to hijack it to either endorse conservative Republicans or pizza delivery boys as candidates in order to deny the line to true WFP or Democratic candidates.

    While the WFP as a whole is a progressive, union oriented party the fact is that it is incredibly weak in many areas of the state and subject to manipulation (as are the conservative and independence party lines) by the dominant party in a given area. There are parts of this state where progressive Democrats get the Conservative party endorsement for example.

    The WFP claim without a full understanding of the circumstances in meaningless in other words.

  •  I was very surprised to see (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Albanius, Jimdotz, soms, Norbrook, swansong50

    the Susan-Collins-is-a-moderate line. HA! Markos ought to know better then to fall for that claptrap. There are no moderate Republicans. Susan Collins is a conservative Republican. The fact that she is to the left of the far right fringe that has captured the rest of the Republican party does not change her stripes from conservative to moderate. Her record is extremely conservative. She simply isn't unhinged or criminal like the rest of her party.

    •  Exactly... (5+ / 0-)

      Because there are moderates, conservatives and then neo-cons. The far right is, well, far from mainstream conservatism. It has attempted to become mainstream conservatism, but those of us who are smart know better.

      I wouldn't want Susan Collins as my representative. I wouldn't want Dede Scozzafava either.

      And that's nothing against her as a person. She is probably a great lady with a great personality (she has a great TV ad out). But I don't vote just based on personality or charm. The substance has to be there. Scozzafava is to the right on many issues.

      Support our troops... not the war.

      by robert harding on Fri Oct 02, 2009 at 06:54:40 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Tipped and recc'd (5+ / 0-)

    Because it saves me from writing a similar diary.  I've recently met Bill Owens, and heard him speak.  He's much more impressive in person, and is willing to listen.  I did ask several of the county chairs who selected him why they picked him, instead of a Democrat.  The answer was that of all the people they interviewed, he was the only one with new ideas and  coherent plans for this district.

    Would I have preferred that a progressive Democrat be picked?  Yes.  We can primary him next year, but for now, he's what we've got.  

    On another note - what gets overlooked is that this year is the year for the local elections.  We've been able to field some pretty impressive candidates for local offices, and stand a good chance of getting some of them in, for the first time in a very long time.  Turning off the Democratic voters by having the national groups attacking the one national candidate is not helping.  

    I think that I have had enough of you telling me how things will be. Today I choose a new way to go ... and it goes through you!

    by Norbrook on Fri Oct 02, 2009 at 06:52:17 AM PDT

    •  Please do write about Owens (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Jimdotz, Norbrook

      the fact is that most of us don't know a lot about him and need to get more information. If lieu of knowing where he really stands lots of assumptions will be made.

      All I know is that, we the exception of a small handful, even a bad democrat (as maddening as they can be) is better than a "good" Republican.

      •  As closely as I've tried to follow this race... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Andrew C White, Norbrook

        I've had a painfully difficult time trying to sort this guy out. I get the sense that his fighter pilot instincts are at play here. He seems to be just waiting for the right moment to swoop in, drop political bombs on his time schedule, and then leave the aftermath for others to sort out.

        I'm not saying that's necessarily a bad thing, but it does make figuring this guy out very frustrating.

        America is sick of you, Republican Party. You are a lie factory. That's all you ever do.
        -- Alan Grayson

        by Jimdotz on Fri Oct 02, 2009 at 07:05:40 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I've asked him (or more correctly) (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Andrew C White, Jimdotz

        his media person to have him come on here and introduce himself.  I'll be trying to get more info and diary it myself, when I'm not so tied up with work issues.  

        I think that I have had enough of you telling me how things will be. Today I choose a new way to go ... and it goes through you!

        by Norbrook on Fri Oct 02, 2009 at 07:13:41 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Being a Rep. NY Assembly member (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Andrew C White, Jimdotz, Norbrook really a weird office. For one thing, the Reps are in a super minority and one has to have some liberal cred in order to get re-elected in well as get your name on anything.

    My take is that she will become a tried and true Republican Congresscritter once she is in DC. No way she is going to buck the majority and vote for ANYTHING Obama wants done...

    As for Owens, the jury is out, but I fear he would add to the ranks of the Blue Dogs.

    I would rather have the Conservative wingnut elected so we can get a progressive in place to take him on.

    Its what happens when a government accustomed to dealing on the level of perception tries to take on a profound emergency that exists in reality. ~ Matt Taibbi

    by NYBri on Fri Oct 02, 2009 at 06:54:15 AM PDT

    •  I agree with you on Owens... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Andrew C White, Jimdotz, Norbrook

      The jury is out. That's mostly his fault. We need to know more. I'm not willing to say he's a Blue Dog just yet. Some of what I have heard is good. Other things I have heard raise questions.

      That's why we need to know more.

      Support our troops... not the war.

      by robert harding on Fri Oct 02, 2009 at 06:56:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Owens needs to introduce himself to us (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Jimdotz, Norbrook

        that is the key point. We really don't know who he is or where he stands right now. Hence all the speculation of how "bad" he might be.

        The Owens campaign needs to get aggressive in defining and selling him as a candidate.

        There are three candidates in this race and frankly any of the three of them could win. Do not count out the conservative candidate Hoffman. At the moment he has as good a shot as Owens in beating Scozzafava.

        Generally letting the conservative and the republican beat up on each other while you sit by the side is a good strategy but in this case I think it is a serious mistake and Owens needs to get aggressive about letting us and his electorate know who he is, where he stands, and why he is the better candidate then the other 2 options.

    •  I'm not sure about your last (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Jimdotz, Norbrook

      statement there Bri. This is the north country after all. I don't know how progressive a candidate can get elected there. I certainly think the party apparatus tends to promote more conservative candidates then necessary and should be encouraged to push the envelope more (as we have done in the 20th and ought to continue to do to continually push to the left) but this is an extremely rural, Adirondack Mountain, back country district we're talking about. It makes the 20th look almost urban. :)

  •  Remember this about NY-23... (4+ / 0-)

    It's why Owens is the best candidate for Democrats:

    NY-23,NY23,Map,US House

    Here's how Owens introduces himself to voters in this very military district:

    America is sick of you, Republican Party. You are a lie factory. That's all you ever do.
    -- Alan Grayson

    by Jimdotz on Fri Oct 02, 2009 at 06:56:33 AM PDT

    •  I don't buy this notion... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Andrew C White, Jimdotz, Norbrook

      That Owens would be a Blue Dog. Not yet anyway.

      A lot of what he says on jobs is very good. He has the record to do a lot of what he says.

      My issue comes on core progressive issues and that's where we don't know a lot about him. We need more than just a website with general talking points.

      Support our troops... not the war.

      by robert harding on Fri Oct 02, 2009 at 07:00:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Agreed. He may NOT join the Blue Dogs... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Andrew C White, Norbrook

        but we just don't know.

        Hey, Bill, contact me! I'd love to do an interview to post here.

        America is sick of you, Republican Party. You are a lie factory. That's all you ever do.
        -- Alan Grayson

        by Jimdotz on Fri Oct 02, 2009 at 07:07:45 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Regardless if he does or not (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Jimdotz, Norbrook

          Who cares if he votes most of the time like people want? Blue Dogs have a limit anyway so if it isn't him it will be someone else. Labels are pretty much meaningless but if it helps get people elected by calling themselves whatever then fine. Remember, not all Blue Dogs are created equally.

    •  Thank you (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Jimdotz, Norbrook

      I think that map tells the story. My take is that the district is ready to elect a Democrat but that we need to be realistic about just how far to the left we can go there.

      Are you in the 23rd? I'm just south of there in the 20th which had a similar track record until we flipped it to the Democratic column in 2006. My take is that you can only go so far at a time. Then you progressively push a district further and further to the left as it becomes more comfortable with the ideas and positions of Democrats.

  •  And Owens? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DemocraticLuntz, Jimdotz, Norbrook

    Trial lawyer, pro-stimulus, pro-choice, pro-civil unions, pro-labor, pro-environment, pro-farm subsidies, pro-military in terms of looking after people during and after combat. The guy is moderate yes and he may join the Blue Dogs but he seems no further right than Scott Murphy and he is basically a party-line vote. This is a no-brainer for me.

  •  I think it comes down to one question (0+ / 0-)

    Would we rather have a (relatively) moderate Republican or a (relatively) conservative Democrat?  We can roll over Republicans, but fifth-column Democrats are killing us.  If Owens would be one of them, he shouldn't be supported under any circumstances, because those people are poison.  

    So, given our current issue landscape, my one question is for Owens: Do you support real health care reform, including either a public option or outright regulation to force private insurance to do what the public option is designed to do by competition?  (That last part is my take on it--I don't need the public option if we impose its desired consequences by legislative fiat.)  If he doesn't answer yes, clearly and convincingly, he should not be supported.  Imperfect Republicans will always be challengeable later but imperfect and even atrocious Dems stay around forever.

    Al que no le guste el caldo, le dan dos tazas.

    by Rich in PA on Fri Oct 02, 2009 at 07:09:19 AM PDT

    •  I'm of mixed mind on that (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Jimdotz, Norbrook, swansong50

      I certainly do not want to strengthen the hand of Blue Dogs or corporate-owned democrats but at the same time voting patterns show that they are, with a few exceptions that do need to be gotten rid of, heads and tails ahead of even the "best" Republicans in voting with the party.

      We need more and stronger progressives to lead the way. A few more Alan Greyson's and Barney Franks would make a world of difference. We aren't going to get those folks in a district like NY-23. But there are districts where we can definitely get people like that but instead we have folks under performing their districts. Those are the places I really want to see a hard push for better representatives.

  •  Something to chew on in NY-23 (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Andrew C White, tietack, Jimdotz, Norbrook

    New York State will be losing a couple of House seats after the next census. Moreover, since the Democrats are likely to still have controll of the state senate (for the first time in like 50 years) there will be some MAJOR changes in district boundaries.. obviously making them less favorable for R's and more favorable for D's.

    If DeDe S. (or some other R) is NY-23 rep at the time of redistricting, the North Country is likely to lose its district. It will be sliced up into strips and melded with more populated and Democratic Party leaning areas of the Mohawk Valley & Syracuse. This may be better for the state-wide (and national) Democratic Party, but will be a calamity for us that live in this district.

  •  If DeDe wins, it's her seat for life (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jimdotz, Norbrook

    Barring scandal, of course....

    The area of NY-23 has not had a D rep for over 100 years.

  •  Good to see some details on the bottom line (4+ / 0-)

    Which is, voting.  How does she vote?  Well done.  Tipped and recced.

    I am become Man, the destroyer of worlds

    by tle on Fri Oct 02, 2009 at 07:20:24 AM PDT

  •  I don't think the WFP endorses Repubs when (0+ / 0-)

    a Dem can win, do they?

    "i find the resemblace of DemocraticLuntz and Arken to Disney style yapping jackals to be astoundingly accurate"

    by DemocraticLuntz on Fri Oct 02, 2009 at 07:28:48 AM PDT

    •  It's not as simple as that (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DemocraticLuntz, Norbrook, sullivanst

      in much of the state the WFP consists of a handful of voters and that is it. In my county WFP registration has blossomed due to Republicans re-registering as WFP members in order to steal the line.

      The three third party lines, Independence, Conservative, and WFP, are all susceptible to manipulation and control by the dominant major party in the area.

    •  Spano vs. Stewart-Cousins (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DavidNYC, Andrew C White, Norbrook

      The WFP endorsement of Spano over Stewart-Cousins in 2004 is the reason he was able to hold on to his state Senate seat for one more term. That was certainly a competitive race. The winning margin for Spano, iirc, was 18 votes.

      •  A realpolitik tradeoff for min wage increase (0+ / 0-)

        a cold blooded (but not cold-hearted)  sausage making deal by WFP.
        It improved the lives of hundreds of thousands of working poor NYers; control of state Sen was not in play that year, and Stewart-Cousins won the next election.

        There's no such thing as a free market!

        by Albanius on Fri Oct 02, 2009 at 02:26:00 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Of course (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          robert harding

          Stewart-Cousins supported raising the minimum wage, too, so what exactly did Spano get them?

          •  He was the incumbent, it passed with his support (0+ / 0-)

            in that session, before the beginning of the term they were contesting.

            Without the support of members of the GOP majority, the minumum wage increase would not have passed.
            Party control of the Senate is winner take all, members of the minority have no input on legislation except in the case of veto overrides.

            Agree or disagree with the tradeoff, it is important to understand the deal:
            It did not delay the Dem takeover of the state Senate.

            IIRC, the WFP did not endorse Spano in the following election which she won.

            There's no such thing as a free market!

            by Albanius on Sat Oct 03, 2009 at 03:09:12 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Hindsight is 20/20 (0+ / 0-)

              Had Stewart-Cousins lost in 2006, it would have delayed our takeover.

              •  What hindsight? I explained WFPs 2004 deal (0+ / 0-)

                You asked a question and I answered: what the 2004 Spano endorsement got was passage in 2004 of a substantial increase in the minimum wage, which the GOP had been blocking for a decade.

                WFP played a DECISIVE role helping elect Dems in races that actually changed the balance, for example Aubertine's win, to which WFP committed serious resources, sending organizers up to a district that had never elected a Dem in living memory.  

                There's no such thing as a free market!

                by Albanius on Sat Oct 03, 2009 at 03:30:46 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

  •  Any details on DeDe's "card-check" vote? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    If that can be discredited, then DeDe can be painted as a Paulite - or in Red State terms, a "Paultard".

  •  Scozzafava (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    One heartily argues what is being said around here.  Personally, one is so sick of the "social liberal/economic-fiscal conservative line" being called basically great, one can just about scream.  We need much more fiscal and economic radicalism in this country, that is frankly more important.  This being said from a person is pro-choice and pro-same sex marriage, but who still supported Dennis Kucinich, despite what Katha Politt and her ilk are saying.  All things considered, if this person were you (from Wis.) this person would lean towards Owens.

    P.S.  This person also opposes the death penalty, favors gun control, and believes in evolution.  That said, he still looks upon William Jennings Bryan as a great radical statesman.

  •  After watching Susan Collins (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Andrew C White, Norbrook, sullivanst

    during this health-care reform debate, please don't give me another Susan Collins.

    "The Work Begins Anew, The Hope Rises Again, And The Dream Lives On" ____________Ted Kennedy

    by pollbuster on Fri Oct 02, 2009 at 07:37:31 AM PDT

  •  Scozzafava (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Sorry, meant to say "agrees," not "argues."

  •  Where's Owen on criminal justice issues? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Would he be the same as Scozzafava when Federal mandatory sentennces (as bad as NY's Riockefeller laws) come up?

    Medical Marijuana is Healthcare. does YOUR bill cover it?

    by ben masel on Fri Oct 02, 2009 at 07:40:06 AM PDT

  •  There is a fundamental flaw in this diary (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Andrew C White

    and that is the idea that recorded votes by Republicans in the New York Assembly have any meaning whatsoever. That has not been true since the early 1970s. The way the New York Assembly works is that the Speaker only brings up for floor votes things that he knows will pass, and he can tell simply by polling the Democratic caucus (which currently has a 107-41-2 majority). Nothing any Republican ever says or does will ever matter. So take every vote she ever cast with a grain of salt.

    All my IP addresses have been banned from

    by charliehall on Fri Oct 02, 2009 at 08:50:19 AM PDT

    •  I think that is actually one (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      of his points in this diary. It is easy to say she is a "moderate" based on her record in the Assembly but as you say that does not necessarily tell the entire picture. And it certainly does not forecast what she would do once under the thumb of the right wing fringe that controls the national Republican Party these days.

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