Part of a movement, not a district

PART OF A MOVEMENT, NOT A DISTRICT…. Next week’s special election in New York’s 23rd continues to be a fascinating three-way fight between moderate Democrat Bill Owens, a moderate Republican Dede Scozzafava, and far-right Conservative Party nominee Doug Hoffman. The most notable development, of course, is the deep schism that’s developed among Republican establishment types (Gingrich, Boehner) who support the GOP nominee, and right-wing leaders (Palin, Beck, Santorum) who don’t,

But while this fight continues to play out among activists, leaders, lawmakers, and media personalities, Hoffman has neglected one minor point: learning what’s going on in the district he intends to represent.

The Conservative Party candidate stopped by the Watertown Daily Times the other day for a meeting with the paper’s editorial board. Not surprisingly, the editors wanted to talk about local transportation projects and the district’s economy. Hoffman, who was chaperoned for some reason by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R) of Texas, was woefully unprepared for easy questions.

A flustered and ill-at-ease Mr. Hoffman objected to the heated questioning, saying he should have been provided a list of questions he might be asked. He was, if he had taken the time to read the Thursday morning Times editorial raising the very same questions.

Coming to Mr. Hoffman’s defense, former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, R-Texas, who accompanied the candidate on a campaign swing, dismissed regional concerns as “parochial” issues that would not determine the outcome of the election. On the contrary, it is just such parochial issues that we expect our representative to understand and be knowledgeable about, if he wants to be our voice in Washington.

Hoffman could have simply picked up that day’s newspaper, and read about the interests of the editorial board before chatting with them. But he couldn’t be bothered — his campaign isn’t about New York’s 23rd; it’s about the soul of the national Republican Party and the future of conservative politics.

He can’t be bothered with “parochial” concerns such as what’s actually important to district residents’ daily lives; Hoffman has a movement to worry about.

I’m guessing Hoffman hasn’t heard the expressions, “All politics is local”? When a candiate in up-state New York needs a Texan to tell a local newspaper not to care so much about issues important to up-state New York, there’s a problem.