In a surprise twist in the contentious special election race for a U.S. House seat in New York, moderate Republican candidate DeDe Scozzafava endorsed the Democratic candidate, Bill Owens, on Sunday afternoon after announcing the day before that she was releasing her supporters.
Scozzafava, who supports abortion rights and same-sex marriage, suspended her campaign after high-profile Republicans, such as former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, threw their support behind Doug Hoffman, a disaffected Republican running on the Conservative Party line.
Scozzafava’s decision to get out of the race was seen by analysts as exposing an ideological rift within the GOP in upstate New York -- but it nevertheless came as a surprise on Sunday when she decided to endorse the Democratic candidate.
It was uncertain what impact Scozzafava’s endorsement will have on the race, given that most of her supporters are self-identified Republicans.
When she withdrew from the race on Saturday, the House Republican leadership, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich all switched their support from Scozzafava to Hoffman.
Scozzafava suspended her bid after a Siena College poll found she was in third place with 20 percent of the vote in the heavily Republican upstate New York district. Conservative Party nominee Hoffman and Democratic nominee Owens had 35 percent and 36 percent, respectively.
Scozzafava’s antipathy towards Hoffman was apparent when the three candidates held their only debate last week and she suggested that third-party rival lacked the conservative value of honesty. (continues here)