North Country accountant Doug Hoffman will run for Congress this year, seeking to reunite the Republican and Conservative parties and take back the seat lost to a Democrat for the first time since the Civil War.
Hoffman announced his intentions Monday night in a letter to supporters, which his campaign e-mailed to reporters.
He wrote that he has heard from his clients and from other residents that “the direction this nation heading is breaking their spirit.”
“Their words of despair have filled me with resolve. They made me realize the fight we face is bigger than any one individual. If we do not shift the balance of power in Washington and Albany this year, our chance may be lost.”
A year ago, Hoffman carried the Conservative Party’s endorsement into a special election to replace longtime 23rd District North Country Congressman John McHugh, a Republican from Watertown who left mid-term to become President Obama’s Secretary of the Army.
Hoffman turned a routine special election into a national event.Ã‚Â He lost the Republican nomination to run for McHugh’s seat to Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava, a more moderate Republican. He won the Conservative Party’s nomination, splitting normally-reliable allies.Ã‚Â The Conservatives strongly disagreed with Scozzafava’s support for legal abortion and gay marriage.
Hoffman attacked Scozzafava relentlessly, continually driving down her support.Ã‚Â He became the darling of the national conservative media and the beneficiary of national conservative donors such as The Club For Growth.Ã‚Â His backers saturated TV and radio with advertising, in what became easily the most expensive Congressional race in this area’s history.Ã‚Â He made regular appearances on Fox News talk shows and on other outlets.
He ran his campaign as a national referendum on taxes and political philosophy.Ã‚Â He was attacked for appearing to know little about the kinds of local issues Congressmen deal with, including an appearance before the editorial board of the Watertown Daily Times, in which the national supporter with Hoffman dismissed questions about issues such as the St. Lawrence Seaway as “parochial issues”.
Hoffman “showed no grasp of the bread-and-butter issues pertinent to district residents,” the paper’s editorial board wrote.
Scozzafava, with her poll numbers hitting bottom, dropped out of the race the weekend before the special election.Ã‚Â A day later, after a comment on her departure from Hoffman that she saw as harsh and graceless, she threw her support to Democrat Bill Owens, a mildly conservative Democrat from Plattsburgh.
Owens won the race and became this area’s Congressman.Ã‚Â Scozzafava became a verb in national political circles; to be “Scozzafava’ed” is to have your national party support yanked from under you. And Hoffman became proof to the burgeoning Tea Party movement that very conservative candidates might be able to win big elections.
Hoffman wrote to his supporters yesterday that his campaign polled Republicans who are likely to vote in primariesÃ‚Â and found that three-quarters of them would vote for him.
He intends to take the Republican, Conservative and Independence party nominations this year. At least one other Republican, Watertown businessman Matt Doheny, is in the race.Ã‚Â Assemblyman Will Barclay of Pulaski announced recently he was considering running but has not decided.