Yesterday, Bill Owens scored an historic victory by becoming the first Democrat in more than a century to win a congressional election in upstate New York’s 23rd district. Owens’ victory was a defeat for many prominent leaders of the conservative movement, particularly Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh. In the lead-up to the election, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich had engaged in a public brouhaha with Beck over his support for Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman’s candidacy. Gingrich complained that Beck, Limbaugh, and company were pursuing “a very destructive model for the Republican Party,” and those concerns appear to have been vindicated by the outcome of Tuesday’s election. Nevertheless, Limbaugh is blaming Gingrich for the conservative’s defeat:
Here is — these are my thoughts on New York-23. … We cannot forget how this whole thing happened in the first place. There was not a primary. The right message here would indict the way party bosses, Republican Party bosses and these big thinkers like Newt screwed the whole thing up from the get go.
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The war between Newt and Rush extends back to earlier this year, when Limbaugh said Gingrich was tearing apart the conservative movement by trying to embrace “better policy ideas.” Gingrich had argued that the “era of Reagan is over,” and that Republicans needed more than simply being the “party of no.” Limbaugh is of course quite comfortable with the “party of no” status.