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GOP watch: Chaos in NY-23

Dede Scozzafava, a moderate Republican whose candidacy for the NY-23 special election "had set off a storm of national conservative opposition" withdrew from the race on Saturday, leaving it a two-way battle between Democrat Bill Owens and third-party Conservative candidate Doug Hoffman, seen by many Republicans, including Sarah Palin and Tim Pawlenty as the only candidate with conservative bona fides. But some marquee Republicans warned of a third-party trend. "If we get into a cycle where every time one side loses, they run a third-party candidate, we'll make Pelosi speaker for life and guarantee Obama's re-election," said former House speaker Newt Gingrich. The New York Times writes that Republican candidates in New Hampshire, Colorado, California and Illinois might receive challenges from third-party contenders trying to claim the mantle of the Republican party.

After suspending her own campaign, Scozzafava came out in favor of Democratic candidate Bill Owens, writing in an email sent to supporters: "To address the tough challenges ahead, we must rise above partisanship and politics and work together. There's too much at stake in this election to do otherwise." Writes the New York Daily News, "it's a major blow to Hoffman, whose campaign arguably would have been better served if Scozzafava remained officially neutral."

House Minority Leader John Boehner defended his party in the wake of Scozzafava's withdrawal. "Clearly she would be on the left side of our party," said Boehner, who had financially supported the campaign of the New York assemblywoman, The Hill writes. Boehner added, "We accept moderates in our party and we want moderates in our party."

Roll Call looks at the pressure starting to mount on NRCC head Pete Sessions: "But two messy special elections later, the NRCC lags behind its Democratic counterpart as well as the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the Republican National Committee in fundraising -- and the committee is more than $10 million behind where the Cole-led NRCC was at this point in the 2007 election cycle. This disparity has caused several Members, staff and GOP political operatives to question whether Sessions has delivered on his commitment to excel where he thought Cole had failed."