Conservative candidate calls Glenn Beck 'mentor'

A bruising House race in upstate New York which took a strange turn over the weekend after the official Republican nominee dropped out and endorsed her Democratic opponent over a conservative rival may ultimately be decided by the "undecideds."

The New York congressional battle has revealed much about Republican attempts to redefine their party ahead of those crucial elections.

The official Republican candidate, Dede Scozzafava, withdrew over the weekend after being overwhelmed by the rival Conservative candidate, Doug Hoffman.

Hoffman ran to the right of the moderate Scozzafava, winning crucial if controversial backing from senior Republicans such as former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.

After withdrawing, Scozzafava called on her supporters to switch allegiance not to Hoffman, but the Democrat Bill Owens.

The internal Republican feud laid bare a debate over whether to move the party to the right, with Palin a potential presidential candidate in 2012, or to the center represented by Scozzafava.

The latest Siena poll showed Hoffman taking a lead of 41-36 against Owens after Scozzafava's departure, but with 18 percent still undecided.

Naftali Bendavid reports for the Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire that "the race remains fluid."

Since Republican Dede Scozzafava withdrew on Saturday, she still retains the support of 6% of the voters, while the number of undecided voters doubled from 9% to 18%, according to the poll released this morning by the Siena Research Institute. The poll has a four percentage point margin of error.

“Hoffman continues to demonstrate momentum, picking up six points since Scozzafava pulled out,” Siena pollster Steven Greenberg said in a statement. “It appears, however, that the majority of Scozzafava’s supporters have gone to neither Hoffman nor Owens, but rather into the undecided column.”

Greenberg added, "With nearly one in five voters undecided the day before Election Day and voters still trying to comprehend the dramatic withdrawal of Scozzafava and her subsequent endorsement of Owens, this is still a wide open race."

Meanwhile, Think Progress notes that Hoffman told controversial Fox host Glenn Beck that he considered him a mentor during a Monday morning radio interview.

After being prodded by Beck to say climate change is not caused by human activity, Hoffman announced, “Well, I think there’s a lot of debate on there. I don’t believe that it’s totally manmade.” Beck cohost Pat Gray praised Hoffman’s lurch to the right, noting “he’s getting stronger every second.” Beck chimed in, agreeing, “He’s getting stronger, there it is, every second.” Hoffman then groveled:

GRAY: Every second. What about

HOFFMAN: I have good mentors here.

BECK: Wait, wait. Wait, wait. Are they mentors that will show –

HOFFMAN: I’m talking about you, Glenn.

BECK: Oh, okay. I was going to say all right, as long as they are standing out from the shadows. [...]

HOFFMAN: No. Yeah, well, I’m going to keep in touch with people like you so I don’t get infected with that disease.

The interview today was not the first time Hoffman has pleaded to Beck for his support. On the October 21 edition of his radio program, Beck quizzed Hoffman on his conservative credentials and even offered his own “cocktail” of immigration policy solutions, which Hoffman quickly accepted. During the program, Hoffman serenaded Beck with adoring rhetoric, telling him once that the founding fathers envisioned “people like you and me to stand up” and take control of government. He also told Beck that he is a member of his local 9/12 organization.

Think Progress has audio of the Beck, Hoffman exchange at this link.

(with AFP report)