UPDATE: As Raw Story reported earlier Sunday, the moderate Republican candidate running for the US House in New York's 23rd congressional district has thrown her support to the Democratic candidate after dropping out of the race.
Dede Scozzafava, whose campaign was upended when fellow Republicans Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich and others openly supported a more conservative third-party candidate, has officially backed her erstwhile Democratic rival, Bill Owens.
The move is certain to pour more fuel on a political fire that ABC's George Stephanopoulos described on Sunday as "a bit of a Republican civil war."
The Watertown Daily Times in upstate New York reports that Scozzafava released the following statement:
You know me, and throughout my career, I have been always been an independent voice for the people I represent. I have stood for our honest principles, and a truthful discussion of the issues, even when it cost me personally and politically. Since beginning my campaign, I have told you that this election is not about me; it's about the people of this District.
It is in this spirit that I am writing to let you know I am supporting Bill Owens for Congress and urge you to do the same.
ORIGINAL STORY FOLLOWS BELOW
Moderate Republican throwing weight behind Democratic candidate: Report
The resignation of a moderate Republican in favor of a more conservative third-party candidate in an upstate New York special election shows that the Republican Party is becoming "more and more extreme and more marginalized," says a senior White House adviser.
Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser and assistant to President Barack Obama, told ABC's George Stephanopoulos on Sunday that the disappearance of the moderate Republican candidate from the US House election in New York's 23rd congressional district says a lot about the current state of the Republican Party.
"It's rather telling when the Republican Party forces out a moderate Republican, and I think it says a great deal about where the Republican leadership is right now."
Jarrett added, "I think [the GOP is] becoming more and more extreme and more and more marginalized. Look at the number of people who actually say that they're registered [who] consider themselves a Republican."
Dede Scozzafava, a moderate Republican, announced her plans to withdraw from the upstate New York race on Saturday, after recent polls showed her trailing far behind Democratic candidate Bill Owens and Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman.
Hoffman is now behind Democrat Owens by one percentage point, 36 percent to 35 percent; Scozzafava was trailing at 20 percent. Hoffman's campaign got a big boost when Sarah Palin endorsed his socially conservative ticket, causing a flurry of defections from the Scozzafava camp to Hoffman.
On ABC's This Week Sunday, host George Stephanopoulos noted that the fight between Scozzafava and Hoffman amounted to "a bit of a Republican civil war," and suggested that Democrats hoped the moderate Scozzafava would throw her weight behind Owens, the Democratic candidate.
And an article in Sunday's Watertown Daily Times suggests Scozzafava may be doing just that. The paper reports that, on Saturday, Scozzafava "began to quietly and thoughtfully encourage her supporters to vote for Democrat William L. Owens."
The Daily Times had endorsed Scozzafava; it is now throwing its weight behind Owens.
However, observers say that Hoffman is now the favorite to win the election this week, as the right-of-center vote had been split between two candidates, and much of it is expected to solidify behind Hoffman, the one conservative left running.
This video is from ABC's This Week, broadcast Nov. 1, 2009.