Former Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-Ark.), who is considered a 2012 presidential hopeful, appeared at an upstate New York Conservative Party dinner last night.
Huckabee has not yet endorsed a candidate in a highly-contested upstate special election that has attracted widespread national attention. Several Republican presidential hopefuls have thrown their hat in for Conservative Party nominee Doug Hoffman, who is running to the right of Republican nominee state Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava.
The dinner was held in a suburb of Syracuse, N.Y., which is just over an hour south of the 23rd district.
"The greatest threat to America’s freedom is not a takeover from the left. The greatest threat to America’s freedom is to become satisfied with mediocrity," Huckabee said at the dinner.
"While [Huckabee] is obviously a Republican, he has been such an outspoken advocate for conservative values and principles. He also puts those principles ahead of party politics," said Scott Chatfield, an upstate Conservative Party official, said at the event.
Chatfield added that Huckabee's appearance was the first time a Conservative Party recognition dinner has featured a national political figure.
Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-Minn.) and ex-Gov. Sarah Palin (R-Alaska) have endorsed Hoffman in the race, citing his conservative viewpoints. Hoffman backers have also accused the Republican nominating committee of lacking transparency.
On the other hand, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) backed Scozzafava, who supports gay marriage and abortion rights.
Gingrich on Monday called Republican support for Hoffman a wrongful "purge," saying that Scozzafava was "adequately conservative" for her district. Gingrich cited her opposition to healthcare reform and cap-and-trade.
The leader of the 1994 Republican Revolution attacked Hoffman's knowledge of local issues and said Scozzafava represents the best chance for Republicans to regain a majority in the House of Representatives.
Scozzafava, Hoffman, and Bill Owens (D) will square off in the special election to replace Rep. John McHugh (R-N.Y.), who resigned to become Army Secretary. The contest will be held next Tuesday.