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.