Hoffman ran as the Conservative Party candidate in the November 2009 special election to replace Republican Rep. John McHugh, who was appointed by President Obama to become Secretary of the Army. He successfully forced moderate Republican candidate Dede Scozzafava out of the race but ultimately lost to Democrat Bill Owens by 48%-46%, in a seat that had been held by the Republicans since the 19th century.
New York uses a fusion voting system, leading to the proliferation of smaller parties who supplement and often work within the big two, by cross-nominating the major party candidates or refusing to do so. Hoffman became the Conservative Party candidate after the Republicans nominated moderate state Rep. Dede Scozzafava. National conservatives and local activists ultimately rallied around Hoffman instead, leading to Scozzafava withdrawing from the race and ultimately endorsing Democrat Bill Owens.
Christina Bellantoni interviewed Hoffman at CPAC last month, when he was preparing to run. "I'm the only candidate that can unite the Republican Party, the Conservative Party, the Tea Party, the 9/12ers and the grassroots of the 23rd district," Hoffman said.