Fearing a split vote might cost Republicans the 23rd Congressional District seat, Conservative Party candidate Douglas Hoffman has dropped out of the race.
“It was never my intention to split the Republican vote in the 23rd District. So today, I withdraw as a candidate from this race,” Hoffman said Tuesday.
Hoffman, an accounting-firm owner from Saranac Lake, lost the Republican primary on Sept. 14 to Matt Doheny, an investor from Watertown.
Last year, in a special election, Hoffman ran as a Conservative Party candidate and lost a close race to Democrat Bill Owens, a Plattsburgh attorney.
After losing to Doheny, Hoffman vowed to stay in the race, but many Republicans urged him to drop out, fearing a split in the vote would give Owens a victory.
The Upstate New York Tea Party, which had endorsed Hoffman in the primary, was leading the charge to get him to drop out of the race.
UNYTEA Chairman Mark L. Barie said Hoffman made the right choice.
“Doug has done the right thing for the New York 23rd, and he has done the right thing for our nation,” Barie said Tuesday.
“It was a painful decision I’m sure, but it proves what his supporters have said all along: Doug Hoffman is a class act.”
Barie said Hoffman’s withdrawal from the race not only avoids a split vote but will reignite the Republican base.
“Now we have a complete merger between the Republican Party and the Tea Party, and it brings boots on the ground and all the other support that a candidate needs, and my guess is that Bill Owens woke up this morning realizing that this is the beginning of the end.”
Republicans held the seat in the 11-county 23rd District from 1852 until Owens’s win last year.
Barie said that with a sizeable advantage in voter registration, the district is ready to return to the GOP.
“Things will be back to normalcy in the 23rd.”
Of the nearly 400,000 registered voters in the race as of April 1, 166,827 are Republicans and 122,669 are Democrats, according to the New York State Board of Elections.
Doheny is also running on the Independence Party line, which has 20,930 voters in the district.
Owens is on the Working Families Party line, which has 1,634 voters.
There are 5,733 people registered as Conservative Party voters, and 77,376 voters who are not registered with any party.
The deadline for Hoffman to be removed from the Conservative Party ballot line has passed, but he urged voters to support Doheny.
“Matt Doheny and I may have differed on some issues during the course of our primary race, but now, we must put those differences aside and do what is best for our nation,” Hoffman said.
“So today, I am asking all my supporters to cast their vote for Matt Doheny on Election Day, Nov. 2.”
Doheny said Hoffman deserves credit for spreading a fiscally conservative message.
“I thank Doug for carrying the conservative torch in the 23rd and am deeply appreciative that today he has passed the torch to me,” Doheny said.
“I welcome his support and will continue to work to gain the support of the many voters in the 23rd Congressional District who believed in Doug and his message.”
Doheny said the target of the fiscally conservative message will be Owens and the Democrats in control of the House.
“It is a message I have always shared; we must stop the spending, the taxation, and the over-regulation currently coming from Washington, D.C.
“Now, more than ever, Republicans, Conservatives and all like-minded independent voters can unite to defeat incumbent Bill Owens on Nov. 2.”
Owens sees distinct differences between himself and Doheny.
“Upstate New York has a clear choice this November,” he said Tuesday. “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.”
Owens reiterated his claim in a recent television advertisement that as a banker on Wall Street, Doheny helped corporations issue millions of dollars in bonuses while laying off hundreds of workers.
He also said Doheny supports tax breaks for companies that ship American jobs overseas.
Owens said Doheny has even called for cutting Social Security.
“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.”
Doheny said Owens’s claims were desperate and false.
“Bill Owens continues to attack me falsely. The people of the 23rd District know that I simply will not raise their taxes.
“As far as my background, I helped restructure a lot of companies across the country, and we saved them a lot of money and saved jobs, and we are proud of that.”
E-mail Joe LoTemplio at: