November 3, 2009: Bill Owens Wins New York’s 23rd District

On this day in 2009, William “Bill” Owens won New York’s 23rd Congressional District. This particular race provides a constant and important lesson to be remembered regarding political control.

Rep. Bill OwensOn this day in 2009, William “Bill” Owens won New York’s 23rd Congressional District. This particular race provides a constant and important lesson to be remembered regarding political control.

Republican nominee Dierdre Scozzafava saw upstart Doug Hoffman, a conservative with support from the Tea Party, Sarah Palin and Dick Armey, declare ideological war on her candidacy. She was a moderate in the same vein as John McHugh, the Republican who held the seat before being appointed Secretary of the Army. Sensing a defection of the Republican base and simply irritated, Scozzafava withdrew from the race and threw her support to Owens, who won a seat that Republicans had controlled since 1872.

We’ve all heard, “He who has the gold makes the rules.” In Congress that saying should start with, “Them who has the purple…” Purple districts and purple states – not thought change – are the margins needed for House and Senate control. The shifts in Congressional power have ultimately hinged on the candidates who win the moderate seats; not the ones who completely align with every one of our beliefs.

Owens defeated Hoffman again in a narrow race in 2010. His district was renumbered to the 21st in 2012 and he was reelected in another very close contest.

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