Hoffman Kicks Off Campaign as ‘Conservative Republican’

ALBANY—As he continues to press for the Republican nomination, Doug Hoffman is moving ahead as a Conservative candidate to replace John McHugh in Congress.

The accountant will announce his candidacy today as a "conservative Republican" in Plattsburgh and Watertown, according to a press release, even though he has not yet officially secured a party line.

Mike Long, the chairman of the Conservative Party, said he will be traveling to the North Country district on Friday to meet with the 11 county leaders there, and then take their recommendation to the state executive committee.

(State election law says internal party rules govern the nominating procedures in special Congressional elections; the Conservative process is different than the Republican and Democratic processes, where candidates are selected by a weighted vote of the relevant county chairs.)

"We're going to meet with the 11 county leaders. I know they've been talking to him on the phone," Long told me just after appearing on Fred Dicker's radio show. "I surmise that after that meeting, from what I've been told already, I think that after they come out of that meeting, my hope is that they're going to recommend to me, when the state executive committee meeting is called, that we endorse Doug Hoffman."

Long first met Hoffman last month watching his son run a triathlon. He said he was "very excited" about the race and thinks Hoffman, "a steady hand," can win.

"We want to hold onto this seat. We want a Republican conservative to hold onto his seat: We don't want to see it go into the wrong hands, whether it's Dede Scozzafava or the Nancy Pelosi clone who will be picked by the Democrats," Long told me. Earlier, on the radio, he described Scozzafava's voting record in the State Assembly as "atrocious."

Democratic county leaders will meet August 10 to pick from a slate of nine candidates. A special election has not yet been called, but sources in the governor's office say Paterson is expected to call it for the same day as either the primary or general election, depending upon when McHugh resigns his seat.

Hoffman Kicks Off Campaign as ‘Conservative Republican’