The Tea Party Candidate That Newt Screwed Over Has No Hard Feelings

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Nov. 18 2011 4:56 PM

The Tea Party Candidate That Newt Screwed Over Has No Hard Feelings

As the conservative base contemplates Newt Gingrich again -- for the first time! -- all manner of Newtian heresies are cropping back up. The other day, I got a call from someone who worked to support Doug Hoffman's campaign for Congress in New York's 23rd district. Hoffman, you may remember, was the Conservative Party candidate who stayed in the race after the local GOP endorsed liberal-leaning state Rep. Dede Scozzafava. As the campaign went on, almost every leading conservative endorsed Hoffman. Palin. Armey. DeMint. Some guy named "Tim Pawlenty." But Gingrich endorsed Scozzafava, citing the need for the GOP to win broadly, everywhere. Eventually, Scozzafava dropped out of the race, and between her supporters bolting for the Democratic candidate and her diehards voting for her anyway, Hoffman lost.

So what does Hoffman think? Is Newt to be trusted?

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"I support all the candidates running right at the moment," said Hoffman. "Any one of them would better than the current president, and that definitely includes Newt Gingrich. Newt apologized to me for not endorsing me, and that's water over the dam, I think."

Right before the election, Gingrich apologized publicly for endorsing Scozzafava. Sometime after the election, he called Hoffman to tell him personally.

"He was very sincere in his apology," said Hoffman. "He was given misinformation as to what this race was all about, and what the other candidate was all about. The people in this district, the sort of local leaders who had endorsed Scozzafava, fed him the wrong information. I don't think it was an error in his judgement. I would adivse other conservative republicans: Don't hold this against him."

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.