Brent Batten: New York candidate gets Rolyed

BRENT BATTEN

Remember Roly Arrojo?

If so, you’re one of the few that do.

Arrojo ran as a Tea Party candidate in the race for the U.S. House District 25 seat covering part of Collier County that was vacated by Republican Mario Diaz-Balart and ultimately won by Republican David Rivera.

It was a hard fought campaign between Rivera and Democrat Joe Garcia of Miami.

Arrojo wasn’t a factor in the outcome, pulling in just 3 percent of the vote compared to Rivera’s 52 and Garcia’s 43.

But his participation was noteworthy in that it represented one of the first times a Tea Party candidate’s insertion in the race was used to draw votes away from a more conservative contender.

The practice reached a new height of success this week in New York, where a former Democrat running as a Tea Party candidate got enough votes to sink a Republican’s candidacy in a special election for a U.S. House seat.

Democrat Kathy Hochul beat Republican Jane Corwin 47 percent to 43 percent in Tuesday’s vote. Tea Party candidate Jack Davis, who ran for Congress as a Democrat in 2004, 2006 and 2008, got 9 percent of the vote as a Tea Party candidate.

The conservative tea party movement lacks a united national organization so the mantle of Tea Party can be claimed by just about anyone in individual states and races.

Arrojo, who had previously been a registered Democrat, claimed it in the Florida race last year. Other than paying a filing fee of more than $10,000, he didn’t raise or spend any money, according to records of the Florida Division of Elections and the Federal Elections Commission. In spite of not campaigning and articulating no positions, he was attacked as “too conservative” in mailings paid for by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, a sophisticated national organization with millions of dollars at its disposal that typically would pay no mind to a third-party candidate with no money. His supposed faults, as outlined by the Democrats, were that he would cut government spending and reduce the size of government.

It was an obvious attempt to sway uninformed Republicans to vote for him, instead of Rivera.

Davis, who according to the New York Times was a Republican before his conversion to the Democratic Party in 2004, needed no such national support, investing $2 million of his own money into the New York race.

Leaders of the national tea party movement went to New York in the closing days of the campaign to disavow any connection to Davis.

Democrats in New York on Wednesday were trumpeting the results as a referendum on the Republican plan to reform Medicare, an issue Hochul made central to her campaign.

Republicans are pointing to Davis as a spoiler, saying they would have won had it not been for his presence in the race.

With both houses of Congress and the White House in play in 2012, both sides are analyzing the dynamics of having a third party candidate with a label commonly associated with conservative thinking in the race.

Arrojo will never be remembered as a strong candidate, but his name could become part of the political vernacular, as in Jane Corwin got Arrojoed.

Connect with Brent Batten at naplesnews.com/staff/brent/batten

© 2011 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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