Tonight, Dede Scozzafava, the Republican candidate for the November 3 special election in the 23rd congressional district, spoke to about 100 Republicans at the Lewis County GOP dinner at the Elks Lodge 1605. After a dinner of turkey, mashed potatoes, and stuffing, Scozzafava fended off criticism that she wasn't as conservative as third-party candidate Doug Hoffman and urged her supporters to vote for her in order to keep her Democratic opponent Bill Owens from serving as a rubber stamp for Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama's agenda in Washington. It was a fairly typical evening--until the speech ended and someone with Scozzafava's campaign called the police. On me.
Earlier today Lindsay Beyerstein reported that Scozzafava responded to an AFL-CIO questionnaire by saying she would support card-check legislation that eliminates the secret ballot requirement for organizing unions. As Beyerstein notes, this contradicts statements made by a Scozzafava spokesman in September. So after the dinner, I asked Assemblywoman Scozzafava if she supports card check. "Yes, yes I do," she replied.
At that point someone from her campaign placed himself between Scozzafava and me and told me I should direct all my inquires to the campaign's spokesman. I nonetheless asked Scozzafava if her signing of the Americans for Tax Reform pledge not to vote to raise taxes means she would oppose any health care bill that raises taxes. "What kind of taxes?" she replied.
Then another couple of gentlemen interposed themselves between Scozzafava and me as Scozzafava headed for the door. I spotted Scozzafava later as she was walking to the parking lot, and asked her: " Assemblywoman, do you believe that the health-care bill should exclude coverage for abortion?" She didn't reply. I asked her twice more. Silence.
After she got into her car, I went to my car and fired up my laptop to report the evening's events. Minutes later a police car drove into the parking lot with its lights flashing. Officer Grolman informed me that she was called because "there was a little bit of an uncomfortable situation" and then took down my name, date of birth, and address. "Maybe we do things a little differently here, but you know, persistence in that area, you scared the candidate a little bit," Officer Grolman told me. "[Scozzafava] got startled, that's all," Officer Grolman added. "It's not like you're in any trouble."
That was good to hear.
But I do wonder if it's the Scozzafava campaign that's in trouble--with a candidate who supports card check, who is unwilling to say she'd oppose a health care bill that raises taxes or includes abortion coverage, and who is so reluctant to answer questions that she has someone with her campaign call the cops when she's questioned by a reporter who is (if I may say so) polite--if a bit persistent.