Conservative House Candidate Hopes G.O.P. Chairs Un-Choose a Moderate

ALBANY—Doug Hoffman isn't taking no for an answer.

The enrolled Republican was passed over during a selection process last month that made Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava the party's candidate to replace John McHugh in Congress. He announced he is seeking the Conservative Party's nomination, but he is also hoping Republican powers that be might reconsider.

"They cannot officially vote on who the Republican candidate is until Congressman McHugh is appointed and he resigns his Congressional seat," Hoffman said in a conference call between us and his newly hired consultant, Rob Ryan. "They still have the opportunity to reconsider their decision, and to reconsider whether they want a liberal or a common-sense conservative."

Hoffman, an accountant and business consultant who was raised by a single mother, said he wasn't holding Republicans hostage, but said he did send a letter to all 11 county chairs asking them to reconsider their decision because "there was no effective conservative Republican voice in the race."

Jim Ellis, chairman of the Franklin County Republican Committee and the regional vice chairman of the party, told me about the letter when he received it last week, but didn't quite slam the door shut on Hoffman's request. (He did say chairs were "honor-bound" to nominate Scozzafava.)

"I don't think I'd consider anything, at this point, until I see what happens when all 11 of us come together," Ellis said. "There's life in the body, but I don't know if it's going to make anybody switch anything. That's the question."

"It's possible, but I don't think it's probable," he added when I asked how feasible this was. Hoffman replied similarly.

"That's up to them," he said of the Republican chairs. "I'm prepared to win this race on the Conservative line. The voters out there are looking for an alternative. The voters are displeased with the choices that the Republicans made, and they'll be equally disappointed with a Nancy Pelosi Democrat."

Hoffman says he has spoken with all 11 Conservative party chairs about garnering that party's endorsement, and is apparently on the good side of State Chairman Mike Long.  Jon Alvarez and Jim Kelly are also seeking the party's nomination.

Democrats will meet August 10 to select a candidate.

UPDATE: Dave Catalfamo, whose firm has been newly hired by Scozzafava, called to say Hoffman's actions are "unfortunate."

"It's unfortunate that after giving his word and saying he would support Dede Scozzafava; it's unfortunate that he's going in a different direction," Catalfamo said. "We're confident at the end of the day that the county chairmen will stand by their selection. I know Jim Ellis to be a man of his word and I expect he'll keep it."