Hours after Republicans rejected Douglas L. Hoffman for the 23rd Congressional District nomination, the Lake Placid accountant was contacting Conservative Party leaders about organizing a run against the candidate his party picked.
Mr. Hoffman and state Conservative Party Chairman Michael Long arranged to meet July 26, four days after Republicans nominated Dierdre K. Scozzafava.
Mr. Hoffman was not pleased about the GOP picking the Gouverneur assemblywoman, saying she's a "big-spending Albany politician who is out of touch with the issues and values that are important to the voters in the district."
Mr. Hoffman found himself preaching to the choir.
Mr. Long has publicly criticized Ms. Scozzafava for her positions on issues important to Conservatives, including her support of gay marriage and abortion rights. Conservatives vowed she would not appear on their line on Election Day.
Registered Conservatives Jim Kelly, a Wilmington resident and former New York City detective, and Jon Alvarez, a Hannibal resident and Army reservist, both expressed interest in the seat.
But Mr. Long sounded most impressed with Mr. Hoffman, who considers himself a "common-sense conservative Republican" and who already had started "lining up resources to fund a very viable candidacy" when the GOP passed on him.
Mr. Long told the New York Daily News he was "leaning toward, without a doubt" supporting Mr. Hoffman's nomination. Mr. Long is expected to seek input Friday from county chairmen.
Mr. Long told the newspaper that Mr. Hoffman's ability to raise $1 million or more for his campaign made him an attractive candidate.
"I think he winds up becoming a very, very serious threat and a possible win for this seat," Mr. Long said.
Mr. Hoffman declined to say Sunday how much money he had raised so far or what he believed he needed to win. The potential candidate promised more details during a press conference Wednesday in Watertown.
Mr. Hoffman also sidestepped a question about his work to get Republican candidates elected while serving as a North Elba/Lake Placid GOP committeeman for 15 years, only to now attempt to defeat Ms. Scozzafava.
"I'm not changing anything," he said. "I'm a common-sense conservative Republican. I think the issue is who the Republicans picked: Are they a common-sense conservative Republican?"
Mr. Hoffman said voters "deserve" a candidate who has a record of creating jobs, who doesn't solve a recession by spending more and who doesn't stifle job creation by enacting cumbersome regulations.
Without him, he said, residents would be faced with voting for "Mr. Bad or Mrs. Worse."
Mr. Hoffman said Conservatives could pick a nominee within the next two weeks. Democrats plan to interview 11 hopefuls before picking a candidate Aug. 10.
The parties are selecting candidates in anticipation of a vacancy, although Rep. John M. McHugh, R-Pierrepont Manor, has not yet been confirmed as the next Army secretary by the Senate. A vote is expected before the summer recess begins Friday.