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The Conservative Party vs Republican Party battle is heating up.  Last year, after being passed over by the county Republican Committees in favor of Dede Scozzafava for the Republican nominee in the race to fill John McHugh’s vacated seat in NY-23, he accepted the  nomination from the Conservative Party and there rest was history. He managed to stir up right-wing media and eventually national Republican ‘leaders’ to shower criticism on the poor schmucks in the local Republican Party establishment who nominated a well-liked and electable moderate instead of a divisive newby who didn’t even live in the CD. Needless to say, there is no love lost now between the local Republican Party organizations and Mr. Hoffman.

Now the same local Republican Party County Committees are trying to interview several presumptive candidates, with the intention of endorsing one in an upcoming primary. Originally Doug Hoffman implied that he would play fair and endorse the party nominee, whoever it is. The Watertown Daily Times reported today(surprise!) Hoffman is using the fact that he is already the presumptive nominee for the Conservative ticket to argue that he be the Republican nominee, or else the conservative vote will be split. Hoffman's remarks rankle Republicans

"I've already been put on the Conservative line, so I will be on the ballot on the Conservative line," Mr. Hoffman said. "I have the ability to reunite the Conservative Party and the Republican Party."

It appears that Conservative Party Chairman Michael Long has come up with a great way to play ‘king-maker’ – nominate teabaggers early, and then threaten a split ticket if the Republican Party refuses to co-nominate his favored candidate.

"As long as Doug Hoffman is the candidate for Congress, we are not considering anyone else," Mr. Long said. "When I endorse a candidate, I expect that candidate to run all the way through to November."

Clearly local Republican leaders are not thrilled

Donald G.M. Coon III, Jefferson County Republican chairman, said Mr. Long's and Mr. Hoffman's comments, taken together, constituted a threat: "Put Doug Hoffman on the line — or lose."

"It appears that the fix is in," he said.

Franklin County GOP Chairman James T. Ellis said he was perplexed by Mr. Hoffman's position.

"I don't know why he'd substitute his judgment for the judgment of the Republican voters in a primary," he said.

It’s not just in NY-23. In neighboring NY-20 (Scott Murphy’s  Congressional District), the Republican County Party Committees are split between supporters of a retired military officer / establishment republican (Chris Gibson) and a 'tea-party activist' Patrick Ziegler. Most publicly support Gibson, but a few (including one key county - Warren) support Ziegler.

There will be no primary. Both have pledged to endorse the party’s nominee, but I think that there is a real concern that Ziegler, should he not get the nomination (as seems likely) might run anyway. Again, Michael Long’s Conservative Party seems poised to nominate Ziegler, and once he is nominated the Conservative Party promises to not remove Ziegler’s name from the ballot, regardless of what the Republican Party does.

I wonder how many times this will be repeated, further marginalizing the already marginalized Republican Party in New York?

Originally posted to NorthCountryNY on Mon Mar 29, 2010 at 06:10 PM PDT.

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