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Gingrich, RNC Pitch In to Help Scozzafava in N.Y.

Republican heavy hitters are stepping up for state Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava (R) in the New York special election, after a poll this week showed the GOP in danger of losing the 23rd district seat.On Friday, former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) announced his endorsement of Scozzafava, who is trailing Attorney Bill Owens (D) in a tight three-way race to succeed former nine-term Rep. John McHugh (R).McHugh vacated the seat in September after being confirmed as Army secretary.The Republican National Committee also confirmed Friday that it was making a six-figure transfer to the New York state party to help with the special election efforts, plus $85,000 for a coordinated campaign — the maximum allowed.The NRCC has already spent nearly half a million dollars on advertising and other independent expenditures. And with the Scozzafava campaign on television only sparingly — reportedly because of sluggish fundraising — the NRCC has become the main source of advertising for the party at this point.In a letter to supporters, Gingrich called the Nov. 3 special election “an important test— for the party in advance of the 2010 midterm elections. He said that Scozzafava is “our best chance to put responsible and principled leaders in Washington.—Gingrich, who voiced his support for Scozzafava at a GOP event last week in New York City, listed off a number of the candidate’s conservative credential, including her endorsement by the National Rifle Association, the fact that she signed the Americans for Tax Reform’s Taxpayer Protection Pledge and her opposition to the Democratic-led health care reform effort.Gingrich did not mention it, but his appeal was clearly targeted at those Republican voters leaning toward voting for accountant Doug Hoffman, who is running on the Conservative Party line.Hoffman has capitalized on the backlash among local and national conservative groups, who have strongly objected to her centrist record in the Assembly. Among other things, she voted in support of gay marriage and the 2008-2009 state budget pushed by Democrats, and favors some abortion rights.Conservative advocacy groups including the Club for Growth, Citizens United and New York State Right to Life Political Action Committee are all backing Hoffman.In a Siena College poll released Thursday, Hoffman received 23 percent of the vote, including significant portions of the independent and GOP electorate.Hoffman’s performance helped Owens pull ahead of Scozzafava by a statistically significant 4-point margin, after trailing her by 7 points two weeks ago.The GOP hopes to convince conservative voters that a vote for Hoffman is a vote for the Democrats.