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Scozzafava, a GOP moderate, took this unusual and dramatic step as the latest poll in the race confirmed that her support had collapsed, and that she had slipped to third in her closely watched three-way race with Democrat Bill Owens and Conservative Party nominee Doug Hoffman, who has benefited from the defections of conservative activists and some high-profile national Republican figures.
In a statement, Scozzafava said she is dropping her bid for the good of her party and her community. "In recent days, polls have indicated that my chances of winning this election are not as strong as we would like them to be," she said. "The reality that I've come to accept is that in today's political arena, you must be able to back up your message with money -- and as I've been outspent on both sides, I've been unable to effectively address many of the charges that have been made about my record."
The news that the longtime state assemblywoman is ending her campaign came as a new poll released Saturday morning showed Democrat Owens, an attorney, and Conservative Hoffman, an accountant, in a dead heat. The Siena Research Institute poll showed Owens at 36 percent and Hoffman at 35 percent. Scozzafava had dropped well behind to 20 percent in the survey, which had a margin of error of 4 points.
Although she has suspended her campaign, Scozzafava's name will still appear on Tuesday's ballot and she will no doubt draw some percentage of the vote. The size of her vote total could effect the outcome of the race.
The poll bookends a week during which rank-and-file Republicans on Capitol Hill and across the country were flocking to support Hoffman's campaign. House Republican leaders and their campaign arm, the National Republican Congressional Committee, had supported Scozzafava as the party's nominee, but GOP leaders issued a joint statement Saturday urging support for Hoffman and seeking to tie Democratic nominee Owens to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California.
"With Assemblywoman Scozzafava suspending her campaign, we urge voters to support Doug Hoffman's candidacy in New York's 23rd Congressional District," their statement said. "He is the only active candidate in the race who supports lower taxes, fiscal responsibility and opposes Nancy Pelosi's agenda of government-run health care, more government and less jobs. We look forward to welcoming Doug Hoffman into the House Republican Conference as we work together for the good of our nation."
Owens, however, fired back Saturday afternoon with a release that aimed to tie Hoffman to unpopular former President George W. Bush. Owens also emphasized the backing Hoffman has received from the Club for Growth, a national conservative organization that over the past decade has defined center-left Republicans like Scozzafava as RINOs -- Republicans In Name Only -- and has backed conservative challengers to these moderates with expensive and hard-hitting TV ad campaigns.
"Voters have a clear choice on Tuesday: they can elect to go back to the George Bush economic agenda, or they can vote to move forward," Owens said. "Doug Hoffman and the Club for Growth's extremist agenda won't do a thing to get our economy moving again."