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NY-23: Can Doug Hoffman Win?

Doug Hoffman, the Conservative party nominee in New York's 23rd district, may have a chance to win. Photo by Jack LaDuke

President Barack Obama heads to New York City later today to raise campaign cash for businessman Bill Owens, the party's nominee in the Nov. 3 special election in New York's 23rd district, but the emerging storyline in the race is whether Conservative party candidate Doug Hoffman has a real chance at winning.

Hoffman, who began the race as an after-thought, has quickly risen into a national conservative cause celebre -- securing considerable financial backing from the Club for Growth and winning endorsements from the likes of former Sen. Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.), former Rep. Dick Armey (R-Texas) and social conservative stalwart Gary Bauer.

Those endorsements coupled with the Club's spending on ads bashing Owens and state Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava, the Republican nominee, have fueled Hoffman's rise. (The Club has spent approximately $500,000 on their ads and bundled another $200,000 in donations directly to Hoffman.)

In the latest Siena College poll released on Oct. 15, Owens led the field with 33 percent followed by Scozzafava at 29 percent and Hoffman at 23 percent. But, it was Hoffman who had gained the most since an Oct. 1 Siena survey; Hoffman moved up seven points in that time while Owens gained five points and Scozzafava lost five points. (Sources on both sides of the partisan aisle suggest that internal polling shows Scozzafava in third place now.)

Opinions vary on whether Hoffman can rise higher or whether he has reached the limit (or close to it) of his support.

Conventional wisdom suggests that while the North Country seat leans to Republicans in terms of registration -- as of April 2009 there were roughly 46,000 more GOPers than Democrats in the district -- there are simply not enough Republicans to split the base vote between Hoffman and Scozzafava and have either one win. (The district has long been represented by a Republican but President Obama carried it with 52 percent in 2008.)

But, Hoffman allies insist that the proper lens through which to look at the race is the conservative/liberal one. By that measure, there is one conservative running and two liberals. Hoffman supporters insist that if the candidate and the Club can make that case effectively, that there are enough conservative voters to hand him a surprise victory.

What all sides seem to agree on is that Scozzafava is fading -- whether slightly or badly depends on which candidate you support -- due largely to her inability to raise enough money to defend herself from attacks from the right (from Hoffman/Club) and the left (from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

While none of the three candidates have filed fundraising reports with the Federal Election Committee yet, it's an open secret among Republicans that Scozzafava has badly underperformed in the money chase and, as a result, is barely a presence at all on television in the final 14 days of the race.

The Scozzafava fade -- assuming it continues -- will create a new group of undecided voters for Owens and Hoffman to try and cherry-pick. Both men are likely to have enough money to make their case -- Owens thanks to the Obama funder, Hoffman thanks to the Club.

We'd expect the DCCC to turn its ad fire from Scozzafava to Hoffman in short order. How he withstands that barrage could well determine whether he can challenge Owens for the top spot on Nov. 3.

By Chris Cillizza  |  October 20, 2009; 4:00 PM ET
Categories:  House  
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Next: Morning Fix: Obama's populist turn


I wonder how much money in the race is coming from outside the district?

Posted by: nodebris | October 22, 2009 9:29 PM | Report abuse

Doug Hoffman says he made 150 million for the Lake Placid area. "That was not the reality in which the Lake Placid committee operated the Olympics. Three months after the games closed, the agency was $6 million in debt — an amount the Plattsburgh Press Republican once called "an enormous sum in 1980 for a village with such modest resources." It owed an estimated 1,600 creditors" Hoffman was the CFO for the Olympic committee. Couldn't someone fact check what these politicians say.

Posted by: lakeplacid | October 21, 2009 6:51 PM | Report abuse

If Hoffman wins - New York wins.

If Owens wins - America wins.

The message will be sent to the gop dinosaurs that sucking up to leftists is a guaranteed ride out of town.

Posted by: VirginiaConservative | October 21, 2009 4:10 PM | Report abuse

from the coming Civil War--between the Rs:

"This weekend, David Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union, was confronted by conservative activist and filmmaker John Ziegler over his criticisms of Sarah Palin. Earlier this year, Keene had said Palin spent too much time “whining” about the national media’s criticisms of her, was too “resentful” of the McCain camp, and appeared to be “bitter.”

Keene’s opinions about Palin were simply too much for Ziegler, who is a stalwart Palin fanatic and has previously said that any conservative who criticizes her should be “ostracized and punished.” This weekend, Ziegler tried to live up to his word by unleashing his anger at Keene.

Ziegler attended the Western Conservative Political Action Conference in California this weekend, where he sat down for a scheduled interview with Keene. Ziegler began by telling Keene that his criticisms of Palin “sound like Keith Olbermann.” Keene stood by his views, arguing that Palin’s decision to quit as governor has shown she cannot “handle leadership and responsibility.”

The interview grew heated as Ziegler began lobbing personal attacks at Keene, facetiously suggesting he was “being paid” to issue critical statements of Palin. (Ziegler was referencing the fact that Keene’s organization was revealed to have asked FedEx for a $2-3 million check in return for helping the shipping company in a legislative fight.) “So your influence is either for sale or by lobbying,” Ziegler said. Upset over the direction the interview had taken, Keene got up and walked away, which led to a public showdown at the conference:

KEENE: You are a liar! … [grabbing the microphone] I said this is over! You got it? Over! … Get out of my face! … I’m not going to hit you, but I’d like to. … I’m not answering anything to you because you’re a jerk. … You’re a sc*mbag. … You’re an as*hole. Got that on the air? As*hole."

Doncha love it?

Posted by: drindl | October 21, 2009 2:25 PM | Report abuse

puke, I wouldn't vote for this fringe loon if his teeth were whiter than the Republican convention in 2008.

Posted by: koolkat_1960 | October 20, 2009 10:25 PM | Report abuse

You sound like a 14 year old looking for a date. Who CARES what his teeth look like? Good grief. No wonder we have morons in DC with people like you selecting them."

Sorry, you ignorant hosebag, but if someone's appearance disgusts me, there is going to be less chance of me voting for him or her.

For example, since you're likely a fat, sloppy pig, there's little chance youd' get my vote.

Of course, if you knew how to read, you'd see that I wouldn't vote for Hoffman even if he had perfect teeth.

Now kindly crawl back under your rock, slug.

Posted by: koolkat_1960 | October 21, 2009 2:13 PM | Report abuse

I'll be voting for Doug Hoffman. He's the only candidate that's not in favor of murdering babies, and enabling corrupt unions.

Posted by: rightisright | October 21, 2009 1:59 PM | Report abuse

puke, I wouldn't vote for this fringe loon if his teeth were whiter than the Republican convention in 2008.

Posted by: koolkat_1960 | October 20, 2009 10:25 PM | Report abuse

You sound like a 14 year old looking for a date. Who CARES what his teeth look like? Good grief. No wonder we have morons in DC with people like you selecting them.

Posted by: anna_78750 | October 21, 2009 1:35 PM | Report abuse

The Club for Growth is splitting the GOPee into two irreconcilable parts (one radical, one conservative), as commented on earlier, but do people really want the vast funding of the top one percent deciding elections and policy for all? I urge all to read this column to get the effects of such interference straight - - and decide if the North country folks really understand who they are working for when they vote for hard winger Hoffman, the man with the green teeth.

Posted by: enough3 | October 21, 2009 11:29 AM | Report abuse

It's the president of the Geek Club!

He looks like an attack chipmunk.

CC misses the whole story here, which is the comng split in the R party as it cannabilizes itself. Instead, he does the predictable --

"But, Hoffman allies insist that the proper lens through which to look at the race is the conservative/liberal one."

Well, if the winger says so, it must be so.

Posted by: drindl | October 21, 2009 11:10 AM | Report abuse

The NY state "North country" region is very poor and remote, and a land of pickups, trailers and old, worn out houses and 24 hour gas stations cum markets for proud but poorly educated white people, and really an extension of the Appalachian chain of poverty and hard times. For such people to vote for a right wing and Wall Street funded radically conservative candidate is ironic: how do you get people to vote against their own interests?

These voters are people who hate New York City folks, but little do they realize they are economically subsidized by New York City big time. This is how the GOPee works today: it uses demagoguery to get its folks elected and then abandons those voters by favoring issues that are irrelevant to the citizens who voted for them - pro-defense contractors, telecom companies, drug and heath care insurers. etc. These voters can identify with Hoffman's green teeth since they also don't have the money to go to the dentist, which means they are really green in their philosophy (but not environmental.)

Posted by: enough3 | October 21, 2009 11:09 AM | Report abuse

reason5: "A successful business owner who helped the people of the district"

tony23rd: "a CPA who has run a successful accounting business built on trust & integrity helping hundreds of small businesses in upstate NY"

Trolls? Shills? We report. You decide.

Posted by: koolkat_1960 | October 21, 2009 11:02 AM | Report abuse

reason5, pls email me at

Posted by: mark_in_austin | October 21, 2009 10:48 AM | Report abuse

To answer the question you ask, CC, I say yes Hoffman can win. He's got the grassroots support and the money to run on tv, campaign well and turn out the vote! Turning out the vote would be difficult, very likely, for Scozzafava, as she is a moderate. Moderates are not good turn out the vote getters. Owens seems liberal enough. Hoffman is definatley conservative and has motivated his base to turn out. With Scozzafava losing in the money dept., and with her inability to campaign back, it looks between Hoffman & Owens. I think Hoffman & the Club can beat off Owens and keep Scozzafava down to win the election. I know I'd certainly vote for Hoffman if I lived in the district. A successful business owner who helped the people of the district vs. those other 2 clowns. I think Hoffman can win.

Posted by: reason5 | October 21, 2009 10:27 AM | Report abuse

Doug Hoffman, you really don't have to post as tony23rd; you can use your real name.

Posted by: koolkat_1960 | October 21, 2009 9:38 AM | Report abuse

Look at that photo.. tell me this dweeb wouldn't fit in .. in either party.. these guys aren't always the best and the brightest..

Obama's change seems to be to collect more money than anyone else... seems countercurrent to his change philosophy.. but, I'm just a wingnut.. and money rules D.C. .. he should probably try to get his tribute payments in Euros.

Posted by: newbeeboy | October 21, 2009 6:12 AM | Report abuse

Hmm ... let's see ... should we in the NY 23rd Cong. Dist. vote for another Democrat lawyer, a say-and-do-anything-to-get-elected RINO Albany politician or a CPA who has run a successful accounting business built on trust & integrity helping hundreds of small businesses in upstate NY? You can decide.

Posted by: tony23rd | October 21, 2009 12:00 AM | Report abuse

puke, I wouldn't vote for this fringe loon if his teeth were whiter than the Republican convention in 2008.

Posted by: koolkat_1960 | October 20, 2009 10:25 PM | Report abuse

DDAWD, they're having a lot of trouble believing that the real story isn't what they hear on Fox News. It's a cruel awakening for our hard-bitten, savvy journalists, but a necessary one.

Posted by: nodebris | October 20, 2009 10:21 PM | Report abuse

Why The (Impure) Public Option is (Probably) Gaining Momentum

"10. The Washington Post's somewhat bizarre decision to make its poll showing support for the public option its lede in yesterday's paper, even though public opinion has been fairly steady on the issue for months. "

heh, thanks, WaPo...I guess...

Posted by: DDAWD | October 20, 2009 10:04 PM | Report abuse

This is a hard core conservative.
Take a good look at it.
Ready to vote?

Posted by: shrink2 | October 20, 2009 10:02 PM | Report abuse

Nothing like watching conservatives cannibalize each other. Finally, a worth target for their perpetual ire.

Posted by: nodebris | October 20, 2009 9:57 PM | Report abuse

It's not even the color of his teeth. It's like someone punched in the lower left side of a wax sculpture of his face.

It's probably just a bad picture, though. He does seem to be a logical conservative option for the voters who are looking for that. The question is whether the voters really want someone who is hard core conservative. This district strikes me as one that will pull the lever for the R, but isn't really looking for neanderthal leadership.

Posted by: DDAWD | October 20, 2009 7:06 PM | Report abuse

Scozzafava favors card check, which would eliminate the secret ballot in union organizing campaigns. How is she a Republican? I agree it's two liberals versus one conservative. All conservatives should vote for Hoffman; liberals can pick one of the two liberals.

Posted by: emmet1 | October 20, 2009 6:55 PM | Report abuse

I don't care what his teeth look like as long as he cuts my taxes!! (BTW, I'm glad he has better things to do than be so vain as to paint WhiteOut on his teeth....)

Posted by: Taxpayur | October 20, 2009 6:21 PM | Report abuse

Doug needs Crest Whitestrips.

Posted by: Steve-O4 | October 20, 2009 5:28 PM | Report abuse

So a funky election in Afghanistan was a complete surprise to Obimbo? what if ACORN goes over there and does it again?

Sounds like a perfect reason to dither on..................and on..................................and on...............and...............

Posted by: snowbama | October 20, 2009 5:09 PM | Report abuse

Anyone who was following the international news for information (instead of looking for right-wing talking points) would note that today, finally, Hamid Karzai has agreed to a runoff election on November 7.

The Obama administration has said, since March, that they need to know there is a legitimate partner in Kabul. We beefed up our presence in Afghanistan primarily to ensure a safe election. We are still there, at the same strength, for the runoff election.

After (if) there is a legitimate election, THEN we can make a commitment to more troops. Obama would be foolish to do so any earlier. McChrystal asked for additional troops within a year, after all, not within a month.

Posted by: mikenmidland | October 20, 2009 5:00 PM | Report abuse

* Deliver remarks at a fundraiser for the Democratic Governors Association at the St. Regis Hotel.

* Deliver remarks at the Clinton Global Initiative at the Sheraton Hotel.

* Hold a rally on health-insurance reform at the Comcast Center at the University of Maryland in College Park.

* Host a viewing of a portion of the documentary "The National Parks: America's Best Idea" in the White House movie theater.

* Host an event on the South Lawn with the White House Office on Olympic, Paralympic and Youth Sport, Chicago2016, and the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) to promote Chicago's bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics.

* Deliver remarks at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute's 32nd Annual Awards Gala at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.

* Deliver remarks to the AFL-CIO Convention at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.

* Attend and deliver remarks at a fundraising event and reception for Sen. Arlen Specter at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

* Welcome the Pittsburgh Penguins to honor them for their 2009 Stanley Cup championship victory.

* Meet with the Professional Golf Association of American champions.

* Host a dinner celebrating Ramadan and highlight the contributions of American Muslims in the State Dining Room.

Now, many of these are worthwhile events and/or standard duties of the president. And on many days since August 31, Obama has met with various members of his cabinet, the military, and leaders on Capitol Hill to discuss Afghanistan.

But all those meetings haven't yet generated a decision, and now we're told that there's really no sense of a deadline of when this decision has to be reached. Meanwhile, the president will be attending more fundraisers in the coming days, one in Boston on Friday and at least one in Florida early next week.

A common refrain these days is that President Obama needs to be reminded that it's time to stop campaigning and time to start governing. This presumes he has any interest in the latter, or an ability to cease the former.

Posted by: snowbama | October 20, 2009 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Beats making decisions. more speeches please:

Gen. Stanley McChrystal submitted his request for additional troops in Afghanistan on August 31.

Here are some of the things President Obama has done since then:

* Deliver remarks at a fundraiser for Bill Owens, the Democratic candidate in New York's 23rd Congressional District, and then deliver remarks at a fundraiser to benefit the DNC at the Hammerstein Ballroom.

* Deliver remarks at a DNC fundraising dinner and reception at the Westin St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco.

* Deliver remarks at an event at the Ritz Carlton Hotel celebrating the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate.

* Deliver remarks at the Human Rights Campaign National Dinner at the Washington Convention Center.

* Attend "In Performance at the White House: Fiesta Latina," a concert celebrating Hispanic musical heritage on the South Lawn.

* Host a picnic for United States Secret Service members and their families on the South Lawn.

* Host an event for local middle-school students to stargaze and conduct hands-on experiments with astronomers.

* Deliver remarks at event with doctors from across the country in the Rose Garden.

* Fly to Copenhagen to pitch Chicago’s Olympics bid (and meet with McChrystal while he was there).

Posted by: snowbama | October 20, 2009 4:35 PM | Report abuse

Nice teeth, wingnut!

Posted by: koolkat_1960

On display is the LOUD and DUMB methodology for picking a candidate.

In duplicate.

Posted by: snowbama | October 20, 2009 4:27 PM | Report abuse

It is beginning to appear as though Scozzafava is now a real long-shot and likely to finish last in this race. Owens now appears to be a clear favorite. Some actually consider Scozzafava to Owens' left, though from what I have gathered they are both slightly left of center----probably best characterized as moderate-liberal with different issue emphases. There will be some issues where Owens is to Scozzafava's left and others where he may be to her right, or where they share basically the same position. Hoffman is clearly a far-right candidate.

Posted by: OHIOCITIZEN | October 20, 2009 4:27 PM | Report abuse

Is this fur real?

We have bad blue-green algae blooms this time of year, but I had no idea how bad.

Posted by: shrink2 | October 20, 2009 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Nice teeth, wingnut!

Posted by: koolkat_1960 | October 20, 2009 4:08 PM | Report abuse

Nice teeth, wingnut!

Posted by: koolkat_1960 | October 20, 2009 4:08 PM | Report abuse

Isn't Scuzzy the Daily Kos candidate. Strange bedfellows.

Posted by: snowbama | October 20, 2009 4:05 PM | Report abuse

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