My view of what happened in NY-23 is quite similar to the views of Scott and John. Maximizing conservative success requires a successful marriage between true conservatives and moderate conservatives, and between pragmatic conservatives and their more ideological counterparts.
As with any good marriage, both parties must work at it, but the work required usually is not onerous. Center-right, pragmatic party bosses just need to take into account the preferences of the conservative base. The bosses in NY-23 flagrantly disregarded these preferences.
For their part, conservative ideologues should be extremely reluctant to launch or back third party and non-Republican candidates. I don’t think this rule was violated in NY-23 because the Republican candidate — a supporter of, among other left-wing agenda items, card check and the stimulus legislation — was simply beyond the pale. But cases like this will be rare, and conservatives shouldn’t reach to find them.
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