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Pro-gay Republican Quits House Race

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Dede Scozzafava, the Republican candidate in a closely watched special election for an upstate New York congressional seat, withdrew her bid on Saturday after concluding that she was likely to lose the three-way race. The withdrawal of the moderate Scozzafava, who supports gay marriage and abortion rights, was considered a boon for right-wing Republicans, including former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, who backed the Conservative candidate, Douglas Hoffman, in the high-profile contest.

How Scozzafava's withdrawal and her subsequent endorsement of the Democrat, Bill Owens, will affect the outcome of Tuesday's election in the state's 23rd congressional district remains to be seen, but the chain of events leading to her departure portends a broader power struggle within the Republican Party as the 2010 midterm election approaches, according to The New York Times.

"But other prominent Republicans expressed concern that Ms. Scozzafava's decision seemed likely to unsettle the party going into next year's midterm elections, raising the prospect of more primaries against Republican candidates that they deem too moderate," reported the Times. "Party leaders -- including Mr. [Michael] Steele [chairman of the Republican National Committee] and Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker -- had argued that local parties should be permitted to pick candidates that most closely mirror the sentiments of the district, even if those candidates vary from Republican orthodoxy on some issues."

Scozzafava, a state assemblywoman, started out the early favorite for the seat, a Republican stronghold made vacant by President Obama's appointment of the former occupant, John McHugh, to become secretary of the army. However, her lead quickly evaporated as grassroots conservatives targeted her, to the displeasure of local Republican leaders and establishment players like Gingrich.

Hoffman, the Conservative candidate, promptly received the endorsement of the Republican National Committee, which had supported Scozzafava until she withdrew. Neither Hoffman nor the Democratic candidate, Bill Owens, supports full marriage equality.

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