Quitters

In the space of less than 24 hours, three major races have been impacted by candidates deciding to quit.

In Afghanistan, challenger Abdullah Abdullah has reportedly decided not to participate in the run-off election with Hamid Karzai for president.  This makes the U.S. attempt to pretend Karzai is a legitimate, democratic leader somewhat more difficult.

In the California governor‘s race, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsome has withdrawn, making it likely that undeclared candidate — and former Boy Governor — Jerry Brown will get the nomination and be the favorite for the general election.

Now, in New York”s 23rd Congressional District (vacant since moderate Republican John McHugh resigned in September to become Secretary of the Army) Republican nominee Dede Scozzafava has dropped out (technically, suspended her campaign) to give Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman (already endorsed by Newt Gingrich and other several prominent Republicans) a legitimate shot to beat Democrat Bill owens.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2010, US Politics, World Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Actually, I think Gingrich endorsed Scozzafava. No doubt he’ll endorse Hoffman now though.

  2. yetanotherjohn says:

    Why would a run off challenger dropping out make the Afghan election illegitimate? While there may be a cloud, such as Gore withdrawing in 2000 when some wanted him to continue, it dod not make Bush truly less legitimate (any more than the status of Obamas birth place makes him less legitimate).

    There was an election (in a part of the world where free elections are hard to come by), the run off candidate declined to compete (for the good of the nation, because he didn’t think he could win or whatever) and so you have a legitimately re-elected president. There is no pretense there.

    Now like Gore-Bush in 2000, those who want to find controversy can always push the withdrawal forward. Like the die hard gore fanatics and the obama birthers, the legitimacy of the argument is heavily tied to the result you wanted to see.

  3. John’s right: while Hoffman has been endorsed by a number of big name Reps (e.g., Palin, Pataki), Scozzafava was endorsed by Newt.

    yetanotherjohn: it is being reported that Abdullah is being pressured to quit, and if true, that makes the situation problematic from a legitimacy point of view. Further, given the cloud of fraud hanging over the first round, it would have been very helpful to the situation if a clean(er) second round could have been run.

  4. PD Shaw says:

    Karzai isn’t legitimate? I don’t think anybody believes he didn’t win a large plurality of the votes or that he wouldn’t win the run-off election. He reached out to warlord powerbrokers (many unsavory to foreign opinion) to expand his reach beyond his Pashtun power base.

    From what I can see, Abdullah offered no real change from Karzai, and his attempt to negotiate his second-place position for some sort of power-sharing deal reflects this.

    This is as legitimate as it was going to get IMO.

  5. yetanotherjohn says:

    On Scozzafava, I am reminded of something told to me at a college republican meeting many moons ago when I wore a much younger man’s clothes. He did not support republicans per se, but rather supported the most conservative candidate in a given race. That generally made him welcome in the GOP, but he was generally with the GOP, not of the GOP.

    The left will no doubt make great hay on the GOP not retaining this seat, as well they should. But there in lies the seeds for their fall. Polls consistently show the country as being centered on the conservative side of moderate. The percentage of people identifying themselves as conservative tends to run about twice that identifying themselves as liberals. The left elected a far left president who ran as a moderate. Obama’s plunging approval ratings shows that this fact is being comprehended by more and more of the electorate. As the left tries to push the country farther to the left, the natural result is people like Hoffman getting elected.

    Of course the GOP has their own branding issues which contributes to the dynamics playing out in this race. The good thing is that what would keep the democrats in power for a generation is unacceptable to the left. So they are likely to lose their dominance, if not their majority, in congress. It remains to be seen how many people can be fooled again when Obama makes the inevitable tack to the center for the 2012 election.

  6. PD Shaw says:

    Prof. Taylor: “it is being reported that Abdullah is being pressured to quit, and if true, that makes the situation problematic from a legitimacy point of view”

    I thought he was being pressured by the U.S. inititially to seek a power-sharing arrangement with Karzai when it was widely believed that Karzai would not accept a run-off. And that the situation has changed now.

  7. Tlaloc says:

    Polls consistently show the country as being centered on the conservative side of moderate. The percentage of people identifying themselves as conservative tends to run about twice that identifying themselves as liberals.

    The problem being that those same people have a wildly different meaning of “conservative” than we political wonks. Hell I consider myself conservative in terms of spending money, not wasting resources, etc but that meaning of the word has nothing at all to do with political conservativism and I would never call myself a political conservative.

    To put it another way, if conservatives are really so overwhelmingly represented in the population why has abortion not been restricted severely? Why isn’t the GOP dominating the political arena? Why did they fail spectacularly to privatize SS and go after illegal immigrants? In other words in a representational democracy why have the conservatives done so badly when you claim they are control the preponderance of votes?

    It’s a rhetorical question, btw.

  8. Tlaloc says:

    WRT NY23:
    The term that most highly comes to mind is pyrrhic victory. The conservatives spent a huge amount of money in order to encourage a moderate vs conservative civil war and to give a strong rep seat a 50-50 chance to go dem. Oh and they embarrassed a number of their national organizations and leaders (RNC, NRCC, Newt).

    The supposed upside for conservatives is that the national party will now start running conservatives everywhere, but a more likely consequence is that disgruntled republicans passed over by the party will launch third party runs (as appears to be happening in VA-05:
    http://220south.blogspot.com/2009/10/va-05-rees-to-run-as-third-party.html

    SO to recap- lots of money spent, party further divided, third party spoilers encouraged, national organization embarrassed, and congressional seat quite possibly lost. Actually maybe the term pyrrhic isn’t nearly strong enough…

  9. PD:

    Any election wherein over 1,000,000 votes had to be tossed because of fraud is an election with legitimacy problems.

    Upon further reading, the issue appears to be over of a boycott over no fixes to the issues from the previous election.

    None of this is helpful in re: the legitimacy issue and further complicates US policy.

  10. steve says:

    PD-IIRC, only 39% of the population voted. Enough of the votes were deemed fraudulent to put Karzai under the 50% needed to avoid a run-off. I think the recent CIA stuff with Karzai’s brother may hurt. A sufficiently large turnout may overcome Abdullah’s drop out, but hard to tell.

    Steve

  11. Wayne says:

    Tlaloc
    If what you say is true, wouldn’t that make you happy? I believe it is more wishful thinking for liberals and fears for so call moderates who are afraid of losing power.

    My wishful thinking is the Republicans going back to their conservative roots and stop fielding liberals with an R behind their name. Yes I understand that it varies with different part of the country but the GOP in general has gone way to far left. IMO if they run as conservative as many Dems did last election, they will win more elections.

  12. Tlaloc says:

    If what you say is true, wouldn’t that make you happy?

    Which part?

    Yes I understand that it varies with different part of the country but the GOP in general has gone way to far left.

    In what way have they gone too far left? Deficits and financial irresponsibility? It only takes a cursory inspection of US economic history to find that republicans in the modern period have been big proponents of deficits, particularly including Ronaldus Magnus. Surely the gipper, hallowed be his name, wasn’t too far left?

    Abortion and gay marriage? Abortion remains eternally locked into a holding pattern that’s likely to not break in my life time. The left and right both use the issue to gin up funds and volunteers. Maybe the right gets a slight edge in enthusiasm but its not a big one. There’s been no momentum on abortion and there’s been a lot of negative momentum for the GOP on other social issues (gay issues, religiosity, STDs, sexual politics, drugs, etc).

    Immigration policies? The GOP is caught in a vice of being an overwhelmingly white party (the RNC website’s banner to the contrary) that has seen its outreach to various minority groups get eviscerated by the conservative base. Maybe they can turn that around but if they do it’ll require moving left, not right. Meanwhile the white majority is getting slimmer and slimmer. By 2050 non-hispanic whites are expected not to be the majority but merely the plurality.

    Where can the GOP move right and actually pick up more votes than they lose? What the GOP really should do to remain relevant is adopt more libertarian views. but that’s distinctly counter to the conservative agenda.

  13. Tlaloc says:

    Perhaps this is a good example, survey conservativism is a lot like survey catholicism.
    ~25% of the US population claims on surveys to be catholic. Yet a good number of those “catholics” do not go to mass, do not engage in regular (or any) confession, do not agree with church doctrine in various areas (particularly abortion and contraception). These people self identify as members of a group that explicitly rejects what they believe.

    What can I say, people are whacky.

  14. anjin-san says:

    Republicans going back to their conservative roots

    Ah. Like Nixon and his wage/price freeze and his domestic wiretaps? Those conservative roots?

  15. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Pilot, was Nixon a conservative or are you just an idiot? Pardon, liberal? I get the two mixed up.

  16. James says:

    The ONLY way for the GOP to regain relevance is to do away with these silly litmus tests for membership, and develop a plan to reach out to the voters they have spent so much time and money demonizing and alienating for DECADES.

    Idiological purity = death of a political party. Conservatives need to reach out beyond the base. Conservatives cannot regain governable majorities without real outreach.

  17. G.A.Phillips says:

    Idiological purity = death of a political party.

    Purity? how about we just keep out the liberals?

    lol, unless you let liberals into your party you will never win another election again, LOL……………

  18. James says:

    G.A. Phillips writes, “…unless you let liberals into your party you will never win another election again”

    I actually said no such thing. I’ll requote what I said so you won’t miss it this time:

    “Conservatives cannot regain governable majorities without real outreach.”

    It is very telling that you claim ANYONE you might reach out to must AUTOMATICALLY be a liberal. This, of course, does not match reality, but that does not seem to matter much to my conservative friends.

    I was actually thinking about reaching out to even Republicans with whom you do not agree. Then, heaven forbid, maybe reach out to an independent or two. You know, just for the perspective, another point of view, more information about how voters ACTUALLY feel…

    Because conservatives will not be returning to power otherwise. Our form of govt. requires compromise with an unwavering attention to the rule of law. Conservatives used to get this.

    No longer.

  19. An Interested Party says:

    My wishful thinking is the Republicans going back to their conservative roots and stop fielding liberals with an R behind their name.

    Oh, you mean like John McCain, George W. Bush, Bob Dole, and George H.W. Bush, among many others? I’m sure Sarah Palin will be available to you in 2012…if conservatives are so convinced that they hold such an overwhelming majority in this country, perhaps they should ditch the GOP and start their own ideologically pure party…they shouldn’t have any trouble at all, I mean, if there are supposedly so many of them running around out there…

  20. My wishful thinking is the Republicans going back to their conservative roots and stop fielding liberals with an R behind their name.

    Wow, that’s cool, because as a Democrat that’s my hope, too.

    Purge the RINOs! Don’t stop until the GOP is 100% pure Palin!

  21. anjin-san says:

    was Nixon a conservative

    Well, he ran on a law & order/decency/respect for authority platform and he gave us our last balanced federal budget…

    Run along skippy, and remember to take your meds.

  22. anjin-san says:

    Actually, aside from Goldwater, a fine man who was actually about something, exactly who the fu_K are these conservatives the nutjobs in here are always going on about?

    Palin is the real ideal of these rubes. Stabbed the voters in Alaska who put their trust in her to do a job in the back so that she could turn a quick buck. Greedy and ignorant, the very model of a modern “conservative”.

  23. odograph says:

    I’m glad to see anti-intellectual conservatism self-destruct. It is a death of irrationality by irrationality. Poetic. It’s sad though, what it shows about the party, and people in general.

    A shocking number of people have anger without introspection or humility.

  24. Wayne says:

    100% Pure, give me a break. Nobody expects to agree 100% of the time with anyone including politicians. It is a matter of degrees. I want candidate that are more conservative then liberal. The choice of an 85% liberal Democrat and a 84% liberal Republican is not my idea of choice. Please don’t give me “well that is what the primaries are for”. The GOP leadership and infrastructure has a good deal of say on whom they recruit and how much backing they get.

    I understand the need for outreach and compromise at times but when you do it to a point where you lose you core values you become your opponents. Reps and Dems no longer argue if we need bigger government and massive spending increase but only on how much to do it.

    Many in the GOP are so busy compromising their values in an attempt to get more votes that they are running off their base which in addition many are so quick to insult and attack.

  25. Wayne says:

    “A shocking number of people have anger without introspection or humility.”

    Yes and they are called liberals. The greatest thing the GOP has going for them is that Democrats are such idiots, hypocrites, egotistical and have an intellect of a fly. The Democrats will drive away voters. However I prefer to win on what we do right instead of what others do wrong.

  26. An Interested Party says:

    re: Wayne | November 1, 2009 | 04:12 pm

    Ahh…”I know you are but what am I?” is such a classic retort…

  27. odograph says:

    Hey Wayne. The recurring humor for me is that people here see me, the lifelong Republican and measured centrist, as a “liberal.”

    The theme seems to be “if you can’t be a nutjob, get out.”

    FWIW, this does happen way over on the other edge, with far whacko liberals, but they don’t have the same practical problem. Their party is structured to accept moderates right now. The fringe doesn’t own that party.

    (I am in Kevin Philips’ words a “lapsed Republican.” If you all say “good riddance” that’s just confirmation of the current meme … that you’ve pushed out the moderates.)

  28. Tlaloc says:

    I find the response to Scozzafava endorsing Owens to be interested. This is it in a nutshell:

    Wingnuts: Scozzafava is a flaming liberal despite the center right scoring! She’s evil and horrible and we’ll jihad the hell out of our own party to keep her from being elected.

    Scozzafava: I can’t win anymore so I’m dropping out…

    Wingnuts: VICTORY! Take that all you non-wingnuts in the party, your days are numbered and we’re coming for you!

    Scozzafava: …and I hereby endorse Owens.

    Wingnuts: How can you betray the Republican Party by voting for Owens? He’s not a republican!

    Scozzafava: Neither is Hoffman.

    Wingnuts: but we’re the real republicans, just because we bolted to go third party doesn’t mean you have any choice but to follow us. Waaaaaaaah!

    Liberals: Damn, that shit’s funny.

  29. anjin-san says:

    However I prefer to win on what we do right

    Now all you have to do is find something you do right…

  30. G.A.Phillips says:

    It is very telling that you claim ANYONE you might reach out to must AUTOMATICALLY be a liberal. This, of course, does not match reality, but that does not seem to matter much to my conservative friends.

    Ya, if you just want reach out to them I guess it’s OK, but as for let them continue to ruin the Grand Old Party is unacceptable.

    I don’t care if it ends up just being Triumph and I left as long as we still have principles!

    And if you want reality, going away from conservatism and and God given laws of conduct is why we lose to fools scumbags and neocommunists.

    If you worship the planet I don’t what you in my party!

    If you believe reducing the population to save the planet you worship I don’t want you in my party!

    If you believe it’s not racist to support the murder of 1 out every 2 black babies by way of your belief in evolution or make back room deals with sorry*** mother******* who do because all you care about is your cushy*** job as a politician I don’t want you in my party!

    If you believe that lazy*** people who don’t work should be given money that some else has earned I don”t want you in my party!

    If you hate your country and only believe in rewritten donkypoop for history that you were taught in public schools and 95% of ****uped heathen universities I don’t want you in my party!

    Hell I could go on for days, but I think you get my intent.

    The moral of the story is if you support a thing or make deals with a thing then you pretty much are a thing….

  31. Wayne says:

    AIP
    I’m glad someone got my humor. I couldn’t resist the”it so easy to throw insults and insults are irrelevant statements angle“. It is amazing how many don’t get that.

    Odo
    You ask for the base to have tolerance for the moderates but you yourself give nothing but insults to the base. Hypocrisy?

    Dems seek moderates but govern from the left. Reps seek moderates and consistently govern more and more to the left.