It will be a three-way race, again, for the seat in Congress that represents Oswego County.
Matt Doheny came to his Fulton headquarters and surrounded himself with local Republican political leaders to claim victory in the Republican primary.Â With nearly all of the absentee ballots counted in the counties of the 23rd Congressional district, Doheny’s lead over Doug Hoffman became larger than the number of votes left to count.
“We look forward to a spirited debate,” he said.Â “I will be victorious on November 2nd.”
But as Doheny was holding his press conference, the man he beat was setting the stage for yet one more comeback.
Hoffman, who ran as a Conservative in last year’s special election and nearly beat Democrat Bill Owens, announced he would run again on the Conservative line.
He was under some pressure from Republicans to drop out of the race to allow Doheny full access to Republican, Conservative and Tea Party voters and donors for the fight against the incumbent.Â Last year’s special election was a three-way race, too.
The Upstate New York Tea Party’s chairman called Hoffman’s campaign incompetent and said his party was considering withdrawing support because the most important task on the party’s agenda was defeating Bill Owens.
Hoffman said it was good news to know that he was outspent by Doheny by a margin of more than 10-to-1 and yet he finished only a few hundred votes behind him.Â Even so, that was an admission that his campaign, which attracted millions of dollars last year, was not doing so this time.
But the Conservative Party pressed Hoffman to run, as it is also pressing Republican gubernatorial primary loser Rick Lazio to run, so the party can get the 50,000 votes it needs from across New York in November to keep its guaranteed slot on the statewide ballot.
In the end, Hoffman decided to keep his promise.
“I do not continue this race out of spite or because of self conceived virtues. I continue in this race because of the failings of my opponents to be truthful with the voters,” Hoffman said in a statement.
“Whether we look a Mr. Owens’ support of Obama-care or Mr. Doheny claim to be pro-life when in fact he supports abortion through the first trimester, we see two candidates who will do or say anything to get a vote elected,” he said.
“The voters spoke,” Doheny responded.Â “They sent a clear message that they want me to go forward.Â You have to respect the wishes of the voters. We are going to unite the Conservatives, Republicans and independent-minded voters and I am the only candidate who can do that.”
Doheny reminded voters that he and Hoffman hold almost identically conservative views on most issues.
But Hoffman’s decision to stay in the race is very good news for Owens, who can count on another split vote among Republican and Conservative voters, and who is making the most of Doheny’s claim that he and Hoffman share the same views.
“Both of my opponents take a different approach that doesnâ€™t serve as a plan to move our communities forward,” Owens said in a statement. “They both support tax breaks for companies that outsource American jobs overseas, support privatizing Social Security which will put the benefits guaranteed to our seniors at risk, and want a return to the failed economic policies of the past that got us into this mess in the first place. This is a change working families can’t afford.”