The NY-23 district looks like it’s going to have another three-way race this year, with the Watertown Daily Times reporting that Doug Hoffman is staying in the contest on the Conservative Party line, after he narrowly lost the Republican primary to businessman Matt Doheny. And chances are, this is probably good news for Democratic Rep. Bill Owens.
In a statement, Hoffman conceded the Republican primary to Doheny, but also added: “I have spoken with family, friends, supporters and staff as I have weighed my next step. So today, with new resolve and a strong commitment to conservative principles, I rededicate myself to this race and announce that I will actively campaign for Congress as the nominee of the Conservative Party.”
Hoffman, you might recall, was the Conservative Party candidate in the 2009 special election, when a right-wing revolt forced moderate GOP nominee Dede Scozzafava to drop out of the race. (New York’s fusion system allows a single candidate to run on multiple party lines. This usually results in small parties that work as influences on the big two — but occasionally rebel against them.) Scozzafava then made a stunning endorsement of Democrat Bill Owens, who defeated Hoffman by a margin of 49.7%-44.8% to win a district that Republicans had held since the 1800s.Hoffman then ran again, seeking the Republican nomination in last week’s primary, and lost in a squeaker to the establishment-backed Doheny. But it looks like he’s not done yet.
At first glance, it seems that the most likely outcome would be for Doheny and Hoffman to split the conservative vote, handing another term to Owens. It doesn’t seem to probable that Hoffman could force Doheny out of the race like he did Scozzafava, because Doheny is simply not as liberal that Scozzafava was. On the other hand, Hoffman could still have enough residual street cred from his 2009 race and the close primary result that he could hold on to his supporter base.
As such, it seems like each of these guys would have a solid base of conservative voters, while Owens mops up the Dems and Dem-leaning independents.