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Turning Ugly In NY-23: Teabagger Voter Intimidation Reported

Via John Amato, the teabagger activists in NY-23 are illegally intimidating local residents at the polls.

I just got off the phone with former state Democratic Chairwoman June O’Neill, who informed me the police had been called to at least two polling sites in St. Lawrence County due to overzealous electioneering (O’Neill called it “voter intimidation”) by Doug Hoffman supporters.

“We’ve gotten reports that people are standing there, covered with Hoffman stickers and yelling anti-choice stuff at voters,” said O’Neill, a St. Lawrence native who has been running the party’s GOTV effort for Bill Owens in NY-23.

“Apparently, there’s some woman claiming to be a commissioner,” O’Neill continued. “Commissioner of what, I don’t know. She’s from Texas, I think, and she won’t leave.”

“This is not the way we roll in the North Country.”‘

O’Neill also said she had received anecdotal reports of problems at polling sites in Gouverneur, which is Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava’s hometown. But she couldn’t immediately confirm this.

It sounds like they’re turning Election Day into just another town hall meeting.

What’s so interesting about this race is that Doug Hoffman is more of a cipher for teabagger ideas and obsessions than anything else. Hoffman is extremely soft-spoken and may not even be as committed to their core ideas as the activists believe:

It all led up to a political speech that was notable largely for its meekness. As Hoffman shifted his weight from side to side and glanced down at his notes, he tossed out only twice pieces of red meat — an attack on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and a promise not to let government “take over health care.” With the rest of his time — less than four minutes — Hoffman talked broadly about bringing jobs back to the district. “I’m going to make sure that everything we can do for Fort Drum, we do it,” he said. “I’m going to make sure that, you know, Watertown, with new jobs, new businesses, and new economy, that’s going to carry us through for the next 20, 30, 50 years.” The second statement did not quite make sense, but the crowd roared its approval […]

At the same time, Hoffman’s mellow nature, and his ability to avoid committing to specific conservative policies, have been the cause of amusement in the press corps and in the candidate’s own campaign. In a mid-October interview with TWI, Hoffman had strayed from the dogmatic conservative response to the stimulus–opposing it outright–and mulled over redirecting more stimulus funding to infrastructure and “job credits.” He gave the same response to another reporter. And another reporter told TWI that interview footage of Hoffman was so bland that it wasn’t worth using. After the Watertown rally, Sandy Caligoire, a Hoffman spokesman, argued that Hoffman’s lack of charisma had become a boon to the campaign.

Hearing the teabaggers cheer Hoffman’s call to “do whatever we can for Fort Drum,” a military base paid for with public tax dollars, just shows the incoherency of the message. The just want to exist in opposition to somebody, and at the polls today, that looks to be turning sour.

I can’t recommend Dave Weigel’s piece enough.

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David Dayen

David Dayen