Conservative Hoffman drops out of race for 23rd Congressional District

Doug Hoffman, the Saranac Lake accountant and Conservative Party candidate in the 23rd Congressional

Doug Hoffman, the Saranac Lake accountant and Conservative Party candidate in the 23rd Congressional District, announced Tuesday he is terminating his campaign and supporting Republican Matt Doheny.

After Doheny defeated Hoffman in the Republican primary last month by more than 700 votes, Hoffman pledged to continue a serious campaign on the Conservative line.

Though Hoffman’s name will remain on the November ballot, he is asking supporters in the sprawling North County district to vote for Doheny in the race against incumbent Democrat Rep. Bill Owens, a Plattsburgh lawyer. The 23rd extends as far south as Fulton County.

Hoffman made his decision to drop out after days of pressure from one of his main supporters, Mark L. Barie, chairman of the Plattsburgh-based tea party affiliate UNYTEA. Barie called on Hoffman to withdraw and personally announced his endorsement of Doheny, a Watertown businessman and former Wall Street investment banker.

Owens remained clear of the fray as the Republicans settled on their candidate, but Tuesday he issued a prepared statement.

“Upstate New York has a clear choice this November,” Owens said, asserting: “While I’ve spent decades helping to create over 2,000 jobs and have made job creation and economic development my No. 1 priority in Congress, Matt Doheny has different priorities.”

Owens said he has supported tax breaks for companies that “create jobs here in upstate New York, not overseas,” and said he wants “to strengthen Social Security for current and future generations.”

Alluding to Doheny’s career on Wall Street, Owens said Doheny “helped corporations issue millions of dollars in bonuses while laying off hundreds of workers.”

While Owens also accused Doheny of supporting tax breaks for companies outsourcing jobs to other nations and of advocating Social Security cuts, Doheny said Owens votes with House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi 93 percent of the time. He noted that while Owens has been quoted decrying last week’s House vote to adjourn until after the election without taking action on extending or killing the Bush-era tax cuts, Owens did vote for the adjournment.

“If only Bill Owens could have convinced Bill Owens to do the right thing and vote against leaving D.C. until the matter of tax hikes had been dealt with; his one vote could have made the difference,” Doheny spokeswoman Alison Power said Tuesday. The measure to adjourn passed by one vote, she noted.

Doheny is on record in favor of extending the Bush tax cuts.

Owens, in the prepared statement issued Tuesday, said: “Upstate New York can’t afford Matt Doheny, and we’re going to make sure New Yorkers understand the dangers of his agenda over the next four weeks.”

On the Hoffman announcement, Doheny said Hoffman deserves “a round of applause from everyone across the 23rd who want to see this Congressional seat back in conservative, Republican hands.”

Doheny said he and Hoffman share the view that “We must stop the spending, taxation and the over-regulation currently coming from Washington D.C.”

Barie, calling Hoffman a hero for his efforts in last year’s special election that drew national attention and ignited the tea party movement, credited Hoffman with persuading voters that “we had it within our power to change the course of the nation.”

Barie, calling Hoffman a class act, said: “Doug has done the right thing for the New York 23rd and he has done the right thing for our nation.”

Barie said Republican can now concentrate on defeating Owens, whom he linked to Pelosi. “When she says jump, he says how high,” Barie said in a news release.

Hoffman lost a special election to Owens last year by about 3,000 votes, but in a scenario similar to this year’s, a three-way race split the vote. Republican Dede Scozzafava succumbed to pressure to withdraw before last year’s general election, but still collected about 8,000 votes.

In his statement Tuesday, Hoffman said: “it was never my intention to split the Republican vote in the 23rd District.” Noting that his name will remain on the November ballot, he said: “I strongly urge and request that my supporters not vote for me and certainly not for the Democrat or Working Families Party candidate.” Owens has both those lines on the ballot.

Hoffman said he and Doheny “may have differed on some issues during the course of our primary race,” but “we must put those differences aside and do what is best for our nation.”

Barie, making the case that the national tea party movement arose from last year’s special election for the seat vacated by U.S. Rep John McHugh, said when the history of the movement is written, “may it be said that it all started here in the NY 23.”

Categories: Schenectady County

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