Doug Hoffman, who rocketed to mini-fame in last year’s NY-23 special election running on the Conservative Party of New York ballot line, has now dropped out of the race for this November’s election, endorsing Republican nominee Matt Doheny after Doheny defeated him in last month’s GOP primary.
Hoffman’s name will still appear on the ballot as a Conservative, the Adirondack Daily Enterprise reports, but he is asking his supporters to vote for Doheny. This is good news for Republicans, as it will unify the conservative vote against Democratic Rep. Bill Owens, who won last year’s special election thanks in part to infighting on the right.
Hoffman had previously announced late last month that he would stay in race, running on the Conservative line. (New York’s fusion system allows a single candidate to run on multiple party lines. This usually results in small parties that work as influences on the big two — but sometimes they rebel against the majors, too.)
But now he is backing out. “Our nation is at a crossroads, and it is imperative that on Election Day we wrest control of Congress from Nancy Pelosi and the Democrat majority,” Hoffman said in a statement. “It was never my intention to split the Republican vote.”
Hoffman previously ran as the Conservative candidate in last year’s special election, riding a right-wing revolt against moderate Republican nominee Dede Scozzafava. Hoffman’s strength and support from national conservatives ultimately forced Scozzafava to drop out of the race. Scozzafava then issued a surprise endorsement of Democrat Bill Owens, who defeated Hoffman by a margin of 49.7%-44.8% in a district that Republicans had previously held since all the way back in the 1800s.
Hoffman tried to come back this year, running in the Republican primary, but lost narrowly against the establishment-backed businessman Doheny. One thing that should of course be noted is that Hoffman did intend to keep going as a Conservative. However, one thing he lacked here was a GOP foil such as Scozzafava, as Doheny is nowhere near the liberal she was. As a result, he then lost much of his Tea Party support to Doheny, as conservatives unified behind the GOP nominee.