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Van Hollen: ‘Extreme Voices’ Prevailing in GOP’s Internal Struggle

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen (Md.) reveled Thursday in the Republican infighting in next week’s special election in New York’s 23rd district.The Maryland Democrat told reporters that he believed the “right wing of the [Republican] party is winning— in the fight between Conservative Party nominee David Hoffman and the National Republican Congressional Committee-backed candidate, state Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava. Recent polls have showed the Democratic nominee, attorney Bill Owens, and Hoffman running close, with GOP nominee Scozzafava in last place. Several GOP House Members and prominent Republicans announced this week that they are backing Hoffman over Scozzafava, and therefore ignoring the endorsement of their party’s own candidate. “I think you are seeing playing out this fight that’s going on within the Republican Party nationally, between those who believe the Republican Party is not ideologically pure enough yet … and those who believe there should be greater pragmatism and greater breadth of opinion within the Republican Party,— Van Hollen told reporters at a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor. Van Hollen said the battle between Scozzafava and Hoffman is indicative of an ideological fight within the Republican Party, and so far he sees that the “extreme voices are prevailing in that debate.— He added that campaign financial disclosures show that many GOP Members are staying out of the contest entirely. “By rejecting that candidate for a non-Republican … and picking somebody else, I think they send a signal that they’re more interested in purist ideology than they are in problem solving,— Van Hollen said.Van Hollen also expressed optimism about next week’s gubernatorial elections in Virginia, where polls show the Democratic nominee trailing by double digits. He said his committee will be examining the turnout numbers to look for evidence of drop off from last year’s presidential election, when Congressional Democrats were boosted by President Barack Obama’s winning margin in almost every district across the country. Van Hollen said the caucus was prepared for a tough cycle in 2010, given that the party in power historically loses seats in the midterm election after a winning presidential cycle. He dismissed any comparisons of this cycle to 1994, when Republicans won the House two years after President Bill Clinton was elected. He pointed out that, unlike 1994, there are no Democratic retirements and that the party’s Members are prepared.“The good news for us is that none of our Members are going to be caught by surprise,— Van Hollen said. “In 1994, they were.—