The Plattsburgh-based tea party group that focused its energy this summer on getting Douglas L. Hoffman on the Sept. 14 Republican primary ballot has thrown its support behind winner Matthew A. Doheny.
"Doug Hoffman doesn't have an ice cube's chance in hell of winning this election," Mark L. Barie, Upstate New York Tea Party president, wrote in a statement posted Friday on the group's website. "A vote for him is a vote for Bill Owens."
Mr. Hoffman announced Thursday that despite losing the primary election, he will continue to campaign for the November election as the Conservative Party candidate.
"When they go to the polls on Election Day, I will give voters a choice between two fast talking lawyers and a small businessman who will speak to the truth, work to create jobs and stand tall for conservative principles in Congress," Mr. Hoffman wrote in a statement announcing he will continue to campaign.
He issued the statement after it had become clear that he could not receive enough votes on absentee ballots to overtake Mr. Doheny for the Republican nomination.
Mr. Barie said he has been less than impressed with Mr. Hoffman's campaign.
"As some of you now know, UNYTEA's leadership had been complaining to Doug and his campaign staff for several months prior to the election," Mr. Barie wrote. "His campaign was unorganized. It lacked focus and the out-of-state staff, knew little or nothing about the North Country."
UNYTEA was formed in 2009 with the goal of forming a get-out-the-vote organization to influence the outcome of the 23rd Congressional District race.
The group, which Mr. Barie estimates to have 1,000 members, is being polled to determine whether the organization should use its resources to support Mr. Doheny or to work solely to prevent the re-election of Rep. William L. Owens, D-Plattsburgh, without backing a specific candidate.
"It's been a painstaking process," Mr. Barie said Friday. "We've received a little over 200 responses so far."
Mr. Barie said returned surveys overwhelmingly have suggested the group support Mr. Doheny, although he believes the majority of members waited for the results of the primary election to determine how the group should act.
"I think a lot of people were waiting for the two shoes to drop, the first for the results of the primary, and second, to see how Doug would respond," he said. "Now that Doug has announced his intentions, I'm expecting a lot of mail over the next few days."
He said continuing to support Mr. Hoffman is not an option.
"It's pretty obvious Mr. Hoffman has lost a great deal of support," Mr. Barie said.
Mr. Barie said the statement posted on the UNYTEA website was his personal opinion, but it was approved by the group's steering committee.