RNC Chairman Michael Steele endorsed moderate Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava (R-NY) in the NY-23 special election before national conservative leaders — like Dick Armey, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and Sarah Palin — forced Scozzafava out in favor of right-wing candidate Doug Hoffman. Following Hoffman’s defeat, Steele struck back at firebrands within his party, telling reporters earlier today that the opinion of conservative outsiders “really doesn’t matter much”:
STEELE: If you don’t live in the district, don’t vote there, your opinion really doesn’t matter much.
Later this afternoon, CNN host Wolf Blitzer asked Steele specifically about outsiders like Palin and Limbaugh, who loudly pushed the nominated Republican Scozzafava out of the race. Steele affirmed that he “hopes” those right-wing voices do not continue to meddle in Republican primaries:
BLITZER: Are you worried Mr. Chairman that Sarah Palin for example, or Rush Limbaugh or others in the conservative movement are going to go into some of these contests and go after the more moderate Republicans who might actually have a better chance at winning in the general election.
STEELE: Well, I hope not. [...] So I’m hoping not, and that’s not in their nature.
Of course, right-wing leaders are actually emboldened by their successful purging of Scozzafava, even despite the results of the election yesterday. Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) is actively backing Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, a friend of the anti-Obama tea party movement, against more moderate Carly Fiorina in the California Senate race. DeMint explained that DeVore will “stand against his own party leaders” and that conservatives need to continue to “shake up the Republican Party.”