Star Watch? New York's 23rd District Race

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The governor's races in Virginia and New Jersey have received most of the nation's attention. But New York's 23rd Congressional District is also making news.

The outcome could have an impact on the national scene.

High Stakes Venture

The battle to replace former Rep. John McHugh, R-N.Y, who became President Barack Obama's army secretary, has turned into a high stakes venture.

What do the races in New York, Virginia, and New Jersey say about the state of the Republican party? Dr. Charles Dunn from Regent University's Robertson School of Government joined CBN News to answer this question. Click play to see the report followed by Dunn's comments.

The New York 23rd is a huge district in the north of the state, and has voted Republican for the past 16 years.

GOP county chairmen had chosen New York Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava for their candidate to replace McHugh. She is pro-choice and pro-gay marriage and conservatives say she has a terrible record on taxes and spending.

She was challenged by Doug Hoffman, a political newcomer who is running as the Conservative Party candidate.

Bombshell

This past weekend Scozzafava dropped a bombshell when she withdrew from the race, trailing in the polls behind Hoffman and Democratic candidate Bill Owens.

"I think it's a warning to the Republican Party that you can't nominate a candidate in the district that alienates almost the entire conservative base," Wall Street Journal columnist John Fund told CBN News.

"With the exception of gun control, Dede Scozzafava, the official Republican candidate, is a liberal on everything," he said. "In fact, she's more liberal than half the Democrats in the New York State Legislature."

Scozzafava had won endorsements from Newt Gingrich and the NRA.

Gingrich now backs Hoffman, and joins Sarah Palin, Minnesota governor and would-be presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty, and more than a dozen other prominent conservatives who came out early for Hoffman.

'Moderates Need Not Apply'

However, some Democrats scoff at the conservatives' influence on the race.

"I think what you're going to see in the coming months, if not years, is Sarah Palin - you know, by the way, she is kind of playing the role as Pied Piper in the Republican party, which is something I'm quite comfortable with," former campaign advisor David Plouffe told NBC's Meet the Press.

"So Sarah Palin, the other Republican candidates who are likely to run, the Limbaughs and Becks of this world are basically hanging a 'moderates need not apply' sign outside the Republican National Committee Headquarters," he concluded.

Still, Fund thinks it's good for Republicans that they were slow to read the mood of restlessness and anger from the Tea Parties, because the protest sprang from the conservative grassroots rather than from party backing.

"I think the Republican Party is playing catch-up, but I think they finally figured out a little bit of what the public mood is - which is very suspicious and skeptical of a federal budget that borrows 46 cents out of every dollar we're spending this year," Fund said.

Scozzafava had yet another surprise after dropping out of the race. She endorsed Democrat Bill Owens, rather than conservative candidate Doug Hoffman.

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John Waage

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John Waage has covered politics and analyzed elections for CBN News since 1980, including primaries, conventions, and general elections. 

He also analyzes the convulsive politics of the Middle East.