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Jack Davis: The First Tea Party RINO?

Eighteen months after the Tea Party defeated Dede Scozzafava, they are running a similar candidate in upstate New York.

by
Sam Foster

Bio

May 15, 2011 - 12:00 am
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Jack Davis’ character has been subject to question after having allegedly participated in petition fraud and bribery. When asked to clarify his liberal credentials with his new Tea Party persona, Jack Davis told the media: “I’ve always believed in smaller government and less taxes.” What small government, less taxes principle was at play when he supported Barack Obama in 2008? Speaking of Obama and Democrats circa 2008, Jack Davis said he’d “do everything in (his) power to get them elected in November.”

If we knew nothing else, it would be easy to write Jack Davis off as some Tea Party candidate cooked up by the DCCC, but he does have some real Tea Party support. The Tea Party Coalition in Buffalo is run by a number of political activists. One of them is the aforementioned Jim Ostrowski, who has aided many conservative campaigns like that of Jill Rowland, who ran against Louise Slaughter in NY-28. Also, conservative radio host Bob Lonsberry has endorsed Davis. (Update: Lonsberry unendorses Davis.)

What is striking is how similar the arguments for supporting Davis are to what establishment Republicans had said of Dede Scozzafava in 2010. When Bob Lonsberry endorsed Jack Davis, he failed to list any vote of Jane Corwin’s that he disagreed with, and he failed to deal with any of Jack Davis’ well-known liberal positions. Instead, his main argument was:

I like the message he (Jack Davis) will take to Washington, I like the message his election will send to the Republican Party, I like the message his win will give to political bosses everywhere.

Jack Davis’ Tea Party support is greatly fractured. Five other Tea Party groups unanimously rejected Davis’ candidacy and supported Jane Corwin. But the actions of one rogue group and a radio host have ensured that the base in NY-26 will be split and ineffectual.

The Tea Party isn’t the only group that’s split. Public Policy Polling released a poll showing Jack Davis as a clear spoiler, giving Kathy Hochul a 4-point lead.

Thanks to NY-23, New York lays claim to the very first Tea Party candidate. Now thanks to NY-26, it can also lay claim to the very first Tea Party RINO.

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Sam Foster is a writer for the blog Left Coast Rebel and editor for NY’s Upstate Political Report
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