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Doheny Extended Lead Over Hoffman as Absentee Ballots are Counted

Doug Hoffman’s hopes of running for Congress as both a Conservative and a Republican came much closer to being dashed on Tuesday.

Three counties in the massive 23rd Congressional District counted their absentee ballots on Tuesday, including Oswego County.  A fourth counted absentee ballots Monday.

Among the four, Matt Doheny widened his lead over Hoffman in the race for the Republican party line in November’s election against incumbent Democratic Congressman Bill Owens.

Oswego County Republican Elections Commissioner Don Wart told Oswego County Today that Doheny won the absentee count, 185-179.  The vote margin was similar to the vote on primary night.

“99 times out of 100, the ballot on paper follow the machine vote,” Wart said.

Similar results occurred in Hamilton and Madison counties, according to the Watertown Daily Times’ political reporter Jude Seymour.

“Mr. Doheny extended leads in Hamilton, Madison and Oswego counties, winning absentee voters by six, four and nine votes respectively. Fulton County elections officials said Monday that Mr. Hoffman won their county by 34 votes, but Mr. Doheny took absentee voters by 16.”

Seymour reported that Hoffman stands to pick up some votes in Franklin County, where the count is underway.

The count through Tuesday widens Doheny’s lead to about 650 votes and leaves Hoffman with a much smaller pool of absentee ballots with which to engineer a turnaround.

Hoffman will need to take three-quarters of the remaining absentee votes, a performance that is about 25 percentage points higher than his performance on primary night.

Vote counts in the remaining counties are likely to be complete by today, ahead of Thursday’s deadline to report final numbers to the state.

For Hoffman, it is a surprising and swift turnaround from his performance in last year’s special election, in which he came within a whisker of beating Owens.  Hoffman was only the Conservative Party’s candidate; moderate Republican Dede Scozzafava got her party’s nomination to run.

Hoffman, fueled by national donations and regular Fox News visibility, marginalized Scozzafava until she dropped out of the race on the weekend before the election.

She received enough votes, however, to leave Hoffman in second place.

This time, Hoffman wanted a different outcome.  He received the Conservative nomination early, in what Republican leaders saw as an attempt to force them to nominate him.  Local party officials complained Hoffman did not come to their meetings to seek their endorsement.

Instead, they backed Doheny, a wealthy New York City investment banker who came home to his native Alexandria Bay area, where he owns islands in the Thousand Islands.

Hoffman won backing from the Upstate NY Tea Party, but after his primary night showing, the Tea Party’s chairman complained that Hoffman’s team had run an incompetent campaign.

Hoffman had promised to continue to run as a Conservative, regardless of the outcome of the Republican primary.  On Monday, however, he would not answer a direct question on the issue.

WRVO reporter Mike Benjamin asked Hoffman, “Have you put any thought into running on the Conservative line?”

“Thank you for voting for me. I appreciate it,” Hoffman said, after a long pause, and then walked away.