Bachmann backs non-GOP candidate in New York, Pawlenty withholds support


Republicans cross-country – from Sarah Palin to Michele Bachmann – are weighing in on the special election in New York’s 23rd Congressional District. But what’s unusual is that they’re throwing their support not behind the endorsed Republican, but behind the Conservative Party candidate, Doug Hoffman.

After his Washington fundraiser yesterday, Pawlenty was asked about the race. He said he didn’t know enough about it to weigh in, but the fact that he didn’t automatically support his party’s candidate was noteworthy enough for The Hill to note it in its headline. David Weigel at the Washington Independent expounds: “That the little special election has become a litmus test is a story in itself; that Pawlenty, who is promoting his political action committee right now, passed on a chance to endorse a moderate Republican in a historically Republican district is another story.”

Bachmann, appearing on conservative pundit Laura Ingraham’s radio show on Wednesday, went further than Pawlenty, urging listeners to support Hoffman over her own party’s candidate. She’s the only sitting member of Congress to endorse Hoffman, according to TPM.

Palin endorsed Hoffman for the seat this week, as well, stating, “Republicans and conservatives around the country are sending an important message to the Republican establishment in their outstanding grassroots support for Doug Hoffman: no more politics as usual.”

As Weigel reported on Tuesday, Hoffman has become a cause célèbre among the more conservative wing of the GOP, earning endorsements from the Glenn Beck-related 9-12 Candidates and getting the support of FreedomWorks chairman Dick Armey (of Tea Party fame).

But Bachmann’s support shouldn’t be surprising. At an Oct. 6 Heritage Foundation briefing she said, “‘Republican’ still isn’t a popular brand name for people but ‘conservative’ is,” adding that “that banner coalition of respecting the constitution […] is a winning formula going forward.