Fearing a split vote might cost Republicans the 23rd Congressional District seat, Conservative Party candidate Douglas Hoffman has dropped out of the race.
“It was never my intention to split the Republican vote in the 23rd District. So today, I withdraw as a candidate from this race,” Hoffman said Tuesday.
Hoffman, an accounting-firm owner from Saranac Lake, lost the Republican primary on Sept. 14 to Matt Doheny, an investor from Watertown.
Last year, in a special election, Hoffman ran as a Conservative Party candidate and lost a close race to Democrat Bill Owens, a Plattsburgh attorney.
After losing to Doheny, Hoffman vowed to stay in the race, but many Republicans urged him to drop out, fearing a split in the vote would give Owens a victory.
The Upstate New York Tea Party, which had endorsed Hoffman in the primary, was leading the charge to get him to drop out of the race.
UNYTEA Chairman Mark L. Barie said Hoffman made the right choice.
“Doug has done the right thing for the New York 23rd, and he has done the right thing for our nation,” Barie said Tuesday.
“It was a painful decision I’m sure, but it proves what his supporters have said all along: Doug Hoffman is a class act.”
Barie said Hoffman’s withdrawal from the race not only avoids a split vote but will reignite the Republican base.
“Now we have a complete merger between the Republican Party and the Tea Party, and it brings boots on the ground and all the other support that a candidate needs, and my guess is that Bill Owens woke up this morning realizing that this is the beginning of the end.”
Republicans held the seat in the 11-county 23rd District from 1852 until Owens’s win last year.
Barie said that with a sizeable advantage in voter registration, the district is ready to return to the GOP.
“Things will be back to normalcy in the 23rd.”
Of the nearly 400,000 registered voters in the race as of April 1, 166,827 are Republicans and 122,669 are Democrats, according to the New York State Board of Elections.
Doheny is also running on the Independence Party line, which has 20,930 voters in the district.
Owens is on the Working Families Party line, which has 1,634 voters.
There are 5,733 people registered as Conservative Party voters, and 77,376 voters who are not registered with any party.