The head of Republican Senate campaign efforts said late Monday that GOPers in New York's 23rd district "[paid] the price" for picking a nominee behind closed doors in a hotly contested special election.

National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) Chairman John Cornyn (Texas) criticized the process under which the local Republican Party chose state Assemblywoman Dede Scozzaafava (N.Y.) as its nominee in a contest to replace former Rep. John McHugh (R-N.Y.), who stepped down to become Army secretary.

Cornyn echoed comments made by Conservative Party nominee Doug Hoffman and national Republicans who scolded Scozzafava for holding too many liberal positions. Scozzafava dropped out of the race Saturday, citing weak polling and fundraising efforts.

The senator tweeted Monday night about the election Tuesday:

NY23 deny primary voters a choice, pay the price

The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), Cornyn's House counterpart organization, and the Republican National Committee originally backed Scozzafava, donating thousands of dollars to her campaign. The national groups faced backlash from grassroots conservatives for their endorsements.

Both groups now back Hoffman while Scozzafava has endorsed Democratic candidate Bill Owens. The RNC Tuesday launched a radio ad supporting Hoffman in the upstate New York district.

NRSC spokesman Brian Walsh said on Monday that Cornyn's tweet was directed at the local party and not at the NRCC or RNC.

"They simply backed the nominee that was chosen by the leadership in the state," he said. "[The tweet was] more targeted toward the closed-door system they had up there. It is a reminder that we need to have open primaries."

Scozzafava was chosen by a panel of local Republican officials.

Republican Governors Association chairman Haley Barbour (R-Miss.) made comments Monday similar to Cornyn's.

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