Douglas Hoffman says he will stay in the race for the 23rd Congressional District seat, setting up a three-way battle.
Hoffman said he would “keep his word to the New York State Conservative Party and to all those who believe in conservative principles, honesty and integrity” by continuing his race for Congress on the Conservative Party line.
Hoffman, an accounting-firm owner from Saranac Lake, lost last week’s Republican primary to Matt Doheny, an investor from Watertown, in a race decided by less than 800 votes in the 11-county district.
Doheny and Hoffman will now take on incumbent Democrat Bill Owens, a Plattsburgh attorney, in the Nov. 2 general election.
“I’m running against Bill Owens, and the strategy I’ve had the past nine months will be the same as the next 40 days. We are going to focus on Bill Owens,” Doheny said at a news conference in Plattsburgh this afternoon.
LAST YEAR’S SPLIT
Hoffman ran for the seat last year as a Conservative Party candidate, losing to Owens in a special election.
The race drew national attention, and Hoffman emerged as a Conservative Party darling, attracting major support from national organizations and attention from major news outlets.
His campaign bowled over Republican candidate Dierdre “Dede” Scozzafava, who was seen as too liberal for many Republican voters.
However, the split among Republicans and Conservatives last year was seen as a major factor in Owens’s win, which marked the first time a Democrat had won the seat since 1852.
Some fear that Hoffman’s intention to stay in the race now will cause another split and give Owens victory again.
“Personally, I am very disappointed in Doug Hoffman’s decision,” Mark L. Barie, chairman of the Upstate New York Tea Party, said today.
UNYTEA had endorsed Hoffman in the Republican primary, but members are being polled to see what their next move will be.
“I thought it would be best, not only for the 23rd District but for the country and the Tea Party, if he (Hoffman) stopped his campaign,” Barie said.
“He has no money, he has no campaign, and I think he is living an old dream from last year, and it is not going to happen again.”
Clinton County Republican Party Chairman Donald Lee also said Hoffman should drop out.
“I would issue a call for him (Hoffman) to drop out right now. It’s the only ethical thing to do,” Lee said.
Hoffman said he met with family, friends, supporters and staff in recent days and determined that he should stay in the race.
“Understand, I do not continue this race out of spite or because of self-conceived virtues,” he said in a statement.
“I continue this race because of the failings of my opponents to be truthful with the voters.”
Hoffman said that Doheny beat him by only a few hundred votes despite outspending him 12 to 1.
“So today, with new resolve and a strong commitment to conservative principles, I re-dedicate myself to this race...” Hoffman said.
“In the remaining weeks of this campaign, I plan to take those principles of cutting taxes and spending directly to the voters in order to help our economy and create new jobs.”
Hoffman also said he will continue to fight for the rights of the unborn as the only pro-life candidate in the race.
At his Plattsburgh news conference, Doheny repeatedly said that he was running against Owens, basically ignoring the Hoffman campaign.
When asked if he was angry at Hoffman for staying in the race, Doheny said, “I’m angry at Bill Owens and the votes he’s been taking in Congress.”
Doheny, who will also have the Independence Party line, also said he is not worried about a possible split in the vote with Hoffman in the race.
“I’m the only candidate that can beat Bill Owens,” he said.
“My election (in the primary) sends a clear message that people are sick and tired of the spending and the debt.”
RACE NOW SET
Owens said he will continue working to create jobs and improve the economy, no matter who is running in the race.
“With the general election ballot now set, Upstate New York voters face a clear choice this November. I have fought hard for tax breaks for rural businesses that create jobs here at home, support strengthening Social Security for current and future generations, and I want to move our economy forward,” he said.
“Both of my opponents take a different approach that doesn’t serve as a plan to move our communities forward. They both support tax breaks for companies that outsource American jobs overseas; support privatizing Social Security, which will put the benefits guaranteed to our seniors at risk; and want a return to the failed economic policies of the past that got us into this mess in the first place.”
E-mail Joe LoTemplio at: firstname.lastname@example.org