Wake-Up Call: Marilyn Musgrave fights Bill Owens (no, not that Bill Owens)

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Marilyn Musgrave's political career rose from the dead last week, as the former Colorado congresswoman and current director of the Susan B. Anthony List's Votes Have Consequences project campaigned for the election of Doug Hoffman, the Conservative Party candidate running for the 23rd Congressional seat left vacant when Republican John McHugh became Secretary of the Army.

Pushing for a third-party candidate rather than the woman nominated by the Republican Party might seem an odd choice for Musgrave (not to mention an organization named after a pioneering feminist). But as Musgrave points out in this column, the goal is to elect the right women.

And Republican state Assemblywoman Dierdre Scozzafava was not the right woman, she insists. Too liberal, says Musgrave, who's joined with Sarah Palin, Fred Thompson and other Republican stars who are backing Hoffman in tomorrow's special election.

"This is the shot that needs to be fired to Republican leaders to wake them up," Musgrave, who took a beating from Democrat Betsy Markey in the 2008 election, told the New York Times last week.

Scozzafava woke up, all right. Trailing third in a race that had become a dead heat between the two other candidates, she dropped out on Saturday -- and on Sunday, announced that she's endorsing the Democratic candidate, Bill Owens (no, not Colorado's Bill Owens). And her support could help push Owens over the top.

If so, Musgrave thinks that's a hard lesson that Republican leaders need to learn. "One has to wonder how long it will take Republicans to realize that it doesn't have to be this hard," she says. "Personnel is policy, and nominating candidates antithetical to GOP values only makes regaining the majority one tough road. Some Republican leaders were amazed to find themselves in the minority after the 2006 election -- could this kind of thinking be the reason?"

But as the Republican rebels push to move the party to the right, they'd do well to keep these words from Susan B. Anthony in mind: "I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do, because I notice it always coincides with their own desires."

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