Few off-year elections have drawn as much attention as the one which took place yesterday. I spent the whole day working the polls as an election judge — 14 hours of relative boredom interspersed with occasional bursts of activity. Voter turnout here in Texas actually exceeded my expectations considering that we only had constitutional amendments on the ballot, but it was still low and consisted mostly of the most politically active elements of our community — the few people who actually care whether a handful of hurricane damaged beach houses get condemned or given rights to land which erosion has put in the public right of way.
During the day I used my iPhone to keep in contact with my network of political informants around the country where much more exciting things were happening and elections for major local and state offices were being viewed as a harbinger of the political climate for 2010. If that theory is right that these elections tell us something about the Spring primaries and Fall general election next year, then the news for America may be very positive.
The real news from the Empire State is not about CD-23 despite the ridiculous level of attention which it has received. Hoffman lost. The Democrat won. It's likely that the infighting in the GOP angered enough people that they voted for Owens out of protest giving him a narrow victory over the most uncharismatic candidate since Hubert Humphrey. The truth is that there was never a good choice in this race. Scozzafava was politically aberrant and more liberal than Owens and Hoffman was unqualified, unappealing and just too conservative for the district. He came off as a complete boob in his interview with Glenn Beck and I wouldn't have voted for him as dog catcher. GOP leaders threw this election away by not choosing someone who could appeal to both fiscally conservative Republicans and moderate independents. End of story. It means nothing at all for the future, except that the NRCC and RNC need to do their jobs better.
The real news comes from New York City and it's not mayor Bloomberg's reelection. It's the victory of two Republicans from Queens in the race for City Council, especially the election of New York Republican Liberty Caucus Chairman Dan Halloran in a race which drew national attention because of the relentless racial and religion based attacks on Halloran by his opponents and also by the Village Voice. Halloran's win proved once again that if you have the right message — individual liberty and fiscal responsibility — you can win elections on a base of Republicans and liberty-minded independents in a Democrat dominated environment. Halloran proved that you can even do it while being a neopagan, and special congratulations go to the leaders of the New York GOP for standing by him and keeping religion out of politics. They set an example for the nation.