If Doug Hoffman ever had a 30 point lead in his primary against Matt Doheny, as he claimed, he lost all of it and more by Tuesday.
The two Republicans are separated by about 600 votes with 98% of the vote tallied in the 23rd Congressional District primary.
Doheny leads, 15,085 to 14,480.
There are at least 1,700 absentee ballots to count, but it would take about a 20 percentage point improvement in Hoffman’s performance to pull even with Doheny from absentee ballots.
Hoffman gathered leads in the eastern counties of the 11-county district, which are closest to his home in Saranac Lake.Â He won Clinton, Essex, Franklin and Fulton counties.
Doheny won the counties closest to his home in Alexandria Bay: Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties.
He also won the most distant counties: Hamilton, Madison and Oswego.
In Oswego County, Doheny won by 455 votes, a comfortable margin of victory in a county that went strongly for Hoffman a year ago during the special election won by Democrat Bill Owens.
“We’ve been traveling almost 70,000 miles,” Doheny told his supporters in Watertown.Â “And guess what? Tomorrow, for the next 49 days, we’re gonna do just that because we’re gonna send Bill Owens home.”
Doheny called on Hoffman to not campaign as the Conservative Party nominee, but Hoffman has said he would stay in the race on the third party line if he lost the Republican backing.
Hoffman circulated among his supporters at a reception last night which featured a local band that wrote a song about the Tea party-backed candidate.Â Hoffman withdrew as the results started to turn against him.Â He did not come outÂ to address supporters or talk to the press.
At about 1:00 a.m., his press aide told reporters Hoffman would not be coming out to talk and would make a statement Wednesday.
Hoffman claimed he had a 30 point lead over Doheny. He pointed to a poll paid for by his campaign, but did not release the details of that poll.Â Hoffman stuck to the contention of a large lead as late as Sunday during his Fulton appearance, when he told OswegoCountyToday.com that calls made to Republican voters supported his belief that he held an insurmountable lead.