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Will he or won't he? The Hoffman Files


There's probably nothing to see here.
But you ought to look anyway.
Doug Hoffman's campaign finance reports came out today, and he's still active. But what does "active" mean? I don't have all the answers. Just a couple, and a whole lot of guesswork. Here goes.
Here's why we care, of course: Political watchers (especially Republican Matt Doheny) are trying to figure out whether Mr. Hoffman is going to make a third run at Congress in the north country against Rep. Bill Owens, D-Plattsburgh. He was on the Conservative line in 2009 and 2010, which split the right and delivered the seat to a Democrat for the first time in more than a century.
But will he run again?
Let's look at his expenditures. He's paying former campaign spokesman, Rob Ryan, and a political researcher. But Mr. Ryan tells me that this is just money that Mr. Hoffman owes from his last run in 2010. OK, nothing to see there.
Mr. Hoffman also paid to keep his website going. But then again, Mr. Hoffman's campaign is still $100,000 in debt, mostly in personal loans to the candidate himself. So wouldn't it behoove him to keep a Web presence with a Donate button? Even if he's not going to run?
Where it gets more interesting is when we see who donated to Mr. Hoffman. The list includes... the New York State Conservative Party. The party that shunned Mr. Doheny in favor of Mr. Hoffman and cost him the race in 2010; the party whose support Mr. Doheny fervently wants, needs, and could get.
Yes, the party donated $1,500 to Mr. Hoffman in August. But in a memo that goes along with it, it was for "2012 Contribution to pay outstanding cam." No, that's not a typo. It ends with "cam." Did "paign debt" get cut off? That seems to be a reasonable explanation.
There are also two individuals who donated to Mr. Hoffman on what appears to be an automatic basis. And he got $5,000 in July from a group that gives exclusively to Republicans.
Here's the one I don't really have a great guess for: Mr. Hoffman donated $1,500 to himself in late September. To help pay the money he owes? Possible. Mr. Ryan took in $600 the same day.
But the answer to all of this is, We don't exactly know. Mr. Hoffman didn't immediately respond to a request for comment; nor did the Conservative Party.
Mr. Hoffman's official answer is this: He's going to wait until he sees the district lines come out, to figure out what the districts look like and which one he's in. He's all but told me that he wouldn't engage in a primary with certain House Republicans (Rep. Chris Gibson) but would consider primarying others (Mr. Doheny). He also made sure that I received an editorial he wrote. Was he pulling a Palin? Or does he have an actual interest in another race? Only time will tell.
So for now, you get a blog post and a bucket of speculation.

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