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Conservative chief says he'd back Hoffman


If Douglas L. Hoffman wants to seek the 23rd Congressional District seat again, state Conservative Party Chairman Michael R. Long said he will clear the decks for his favorite candidate.

Mr. Hoffman, the chairman said, "earned the right to run again" on the party's line when he captured about 46 percent of the vote during last year's special election.

Mr. Hoffman lost by 3,584 votes to Rep. William L. Owens, D-Plattsburgh, in the November special election to succeed Republican John M. McHugh, who resigned to become Army secretary. Republican Assemblywoman Dierdre K. Scozzafava was third.

"He has gotten the attention of the conservative movement nationwide and the conservatives of this district. He inspired the hearts and minds of people who feel Washington is out of control," Mr. Long said. "He made history. You just don't say after all the hard work, 'What I'm going to do is open up the process so there can be a primary.'"

He said Mr. Hoffman "has already won the hearts and minds of the registered Republicans, of the conservative independents and conservative Democrats." There's no need, he said, "to have a destructive party primary."

A registered Conservative Party member could collect 266 signatures and force a primary anyway.

It's also possible that there would be a second three-way race if Mr. Hoffman, as the Conservative Party's nominee, did not win a Republican Party primary.

Watertown businessman Matthew A. Doheny, Assemblyman William A. Barclay of Pulaski and Franklin County Legislator Paul A. Maroun have said they are considering seeking the GOP nomination.

Mr. Long was unconcerned about that potential scenario.

"Anything can change in this business," he said. "But at this point, I don't know of any Republican in the district that can beat him in the primary."

Mr. Long said Mr. Hoffman has made no commitments about running. He also said he could change his mind about reserving the line if Mr. Hoffman "makes some mistakes" over the next few months, such as being too indecisive about his candidacy or too slow to rebuild his campaign organization.

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