In her statement Saturday, Scozzafava did not offer an endorsement, but she released her supporters to back another candidate. Because Scozzafava's strongest support has always been among Republican moderates, it is possible that a large chunk of her supporters could move to Owens, the Democrat, rather than Hoffman. Her statement did not mention Hoffman by name.
"It is increasingly clear that pressure is mounting on many of my supporters to shift their support. Consequently, I hereby release those individuals who have endorsed and supported my campaign to transfer their support as they see fit to do so," she said. "I am and have always been a proud Republican. It is my hope that with my actions today, my party will emerge stronger and our district and our nation can take an important step towards restoring the enduring strength and economic prosperity that has defined us for generations."
In a statement Hoffman decried all of the liberal support and money that has been flooding into the district to help boost Owens. He did not mention the wave of money and endorsements from national conservatives that helped move his third-party bid into contention to win the race.
"This campaign is a horse race between me and Nancy Pelosi's handpicked candidate, Bill Owens," Hoffman said. "It's time for us to send a message to Washington -- we're sick and tired of big-spending, high-taxing, career politicians and by voting for me on Tuesday you will send that message loud and clear."
Hoffman also made no mention of Scozzafava in his statement. Owens, by contrast, paid tribute to his sidelined rival. Scozzafava, Owens said, "has been an honorable public servant for years now and I have a tremendous amount of respect for her and her commitment to her principles. While we disagree on certain issues, we share a dedication to serving the best interests of Upstate New York and the Obama administration's efforts to get our economy back on track. Those interests will always be my highest priority."
The special election in upstate New York was triggered by the resignation of nine-term Republican Rep. John M. McHugh, who was confirmed as secretary of the Army in September. Although the district has a Republican registration advantage, it voted narrowly for Barack Obama as the Democratic nominee in the 2008 presidential election.
To help rally Democrats to go to the polls, the White House is sending Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. to the district to campaign with Owens on Monday.