WATERTOWN, N.Y. — As I reported in my story today, the campaign of Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman is not talking or thinking much about purged GOP candidate Dede Scozzafava. Some in the campaign are disappointed that more wasn’t done to court Scozzafava and keep her on the fence. No one thinks that Republicans worked as hard as the Democrats to get an endorsement from Scozzafava, but they hadn’t wanted to: as Hoffman spokesman Rob Ryan told me, the only times they thought of Scozzafava, it was about how to force her out of the race. The fact that unions which endorsed Scozzafava will now be hitting the streets for Democrat Bill Owens did not surprise him. “They only endorsed Scozzafava because her husband is a union organizer,” he said. “If it wasn’t for that they would have endorsed the Democrat anyway.”
I spent some time with volunteers for both campaigns yesterday and observed that — to put it simply — Owens is counting on a fairly standard Democratic ground game of unions and party operatives, while Hoffman, having been denied Republican organizing tools until now, is counting on conservative activists. The pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, for example, has eight organizers working full-time in the district. Today, they’re canvassing with members of Generation Joshua, a religious youth group, and handing out literature that lists Hoffman’s endorsements from former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, former Sen. Fred Thompson, and conservative blogger Michelle Malkin. They’ve prepared 90,000 sample ballots for Hoffman to be handed out by 200-odd volunteers at key precincts.
I asked former Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R-Colo.), who is working for the Susan B. Anthony List canvassing with the students, whether so much out-of-state support from conservatives was alienating local voters. “When people see a grandma or a young person coming up to their door or waving a sign,” she said, “they don’t ask whether that person is from the district.”
Nonetheless, Hoffman is forgoing campaign events this morning in order to win over local Republican activists who had not backed him against Scozzafava. His public appearances will start in the afternoon.