In a move that could boost Republican Matt Doheny's chances to unseat Rep. Bill Owens, D-N.Y. from his Central New York House seat, Doug Hoffman has suspended his Conservative-line campaign for the congressional seat in New York's 23rd District. Hoffman, who lost to Owens in a special election last fall for the seat formerly held by Army Secretary John McHugh - lost to Doheny in a Republican primary last month.
Democrats were counting on Hoffman to split the Republican vote, giving Owens a chance to hold on to the seat that - prior to Owens' victory last year -- had been in GOP hands since 1850.
Owens narrowly defeated Hoffman, 48-46 percent in that special election, when Hoffman ran on the Conservative line. His third-party candidacy cleared the way for Owens' victory when he split some of the GOP vote with Republican Dede Scozzafava, who pulled in 6 percent of the vote, even after pulling out of the race.
Hoffman explained in a statement -- first reported by The Adirondack Daily Enterprise -- that he wants his supporters to vote for Doheny, of Watertown, despite their differences on some issues.
"Now, we must put those differences aside and do what is best for our nation," said Hoffman.
"Our nation is at a crossroads, and it is imperative that on Election Day we wrest control of Congress from Nancy Pelosi and the Democrat majority. ... It was never my intention to split the Republican vote," said Hoffman, whose name will still appear on the Nov. 2 ballot.
In his own statement, Doheny thanked Hoffman "for carrying the conservative torch in the 23rd, and am deeply appreciative that today he has passed that torch to me."
"Doug Hoffman deserves a round of applause from everyone across the 23rd who wants to see this congressional seat back in conservative, Republican hands," said Doheny. In a statement, Owens sought to frame the choice between himself and Doheny: "Upstate New York has a clear choice this November. While I've spent decades helping to create over 2,000 jobs and have made job creation and economic development my number one priority in Congress, Matt Doheny has different priorities. ... 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."
President Obama won the district with 52 percent of the vote in 2008 over Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.
This article appears in the October 9, 2010, edition of National Journal Daily PM Update.