NRSC chairman Cornyn criticizes GOP in N.Y. special district for not holding primary

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 in a hotly contested special election behind closed doors.

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

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

The senator tweeted last night about the election tomorrow:

NY23 deny primary voters a choice, pay the price

The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), Cornyn's House counterparts, 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 the Democratic candidate Bill Owens. The RNC today launched a radio ad in the upstate New York district supporting Hoffman.

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, not a primary voters.

Republican Governors Association chairman Gov. Haley Barbour (R-Miss.) made comments similar to Cornyn yesterday.

Cross-posted to the Briefing Room