Commentary Magazine


Who Won in the 23rd?

It’s not likely, but a huge embarrassment to Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama could be shaping up in the 23rd Congressional District of New York.

Doug Hoffman, the Conservative party candidate, conceded the race on election night when he was told that, with 93 percent of the vote counted, he was 5,300 votes behind and had barely carried his stronghold of Oswego County.

In fact he carried Oswego by 1,748 votes and, thanks to the recanvass, is now only 3,000 votes behind the Democratic candidate, Bill Owens. On election night, he was behind Owens by 300 votes in Jefferson County. He now leads there by over 400.

So it boils down to the absentee ballots that are yet to be counted. There were about 10,000 absentee ballots sent out. If half of them were returned — not an uncommon percentage — Hoffman would have to win over 80 percent of them to overturn Owens’s victory. Very unlikely, but not impossible.

If that were to happen, the political apparatchiks in the White House, who have been trying desperately to change the subject by saying that this election was the true test of national politics, not the governorships of Virginia and New Jersey, would have egg all over their faces. Worse, Nancy Pelosi would look like she played dirty by swearing in Bill Owns when there was no certificate of election from New York State. Each house is “the Judge of the Elections, Returns and Qualifications of its own members,” but it is unusual not to wait for certification of the election by state election authorities. Pelosi didn’t in this case (or in the undisputed special House race in California), because she was desperate to have the two votes for the PelosiCare bill.

I haven’t the faintest idea if the vote of an improperly seated congressman counts (and it wouldn’t reverse the outcome in any case), but if Bill Owens was indeed improperly seated, it will be truly delicious.

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