New York: Hoffman to Join GOP Race for McHugh Seat

Posted June 15, 2009 at 5:19pm

A managing partner at a large upstate accounting firm is preparing to throw his hat into the ring in the yet-to-be-scheduled special election to replace Rep. John McHugh (R), who has been nominated to be secretary of the Army.

Douglas Hoffman (R) is set to announce today that he is creating an exploratory committee for a possible Congressional bid.

He joins investment banker Matthew Doheny and Franklin County Legislator Paul Maroun on the list of Republicans who have expressed an interest in running for McHugh’s seat, assuming it becomes vacant. Several other GOPers, including state Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava and Franklin County District Attorney Derek Champagne, are looking at the race.

Hoffman, 59, said in an interview that he is interested in running because, “I think that seat should be filled by someone with an economic and business background at this point— during the financial crisis.

Hoffman, who lives and works in Lake Placid, has a long résumé of civic activities and has also been involved in local Republican politics. But this would be his first bid for public office. He said he is beginning the process of reaching out to the 11 county GOP chairmen in the Congressional district who are almost certain to select the nominee for the special election.

Hoffman’s accounting firm has offices in six cities and towns throughout the sprawling district.

Even though McHugh’s seat has been in GOP hands for generations, Democrats believe they have an excellent chance of winning the special election.

Tea-leaf readers will be interested to note that Rep. Steve Israel (D), the top recruiter for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, was scheduled to appear Monday night at the annual fundraising dinner of the Jefferson County Democratic Committee in Watertown. That’s the home turf of state Sen. Darrel Aubertine, whom national Democrats are trying to recruit into the race.

According to politickerny.com, Israel will be meeting with several potential candidates for the seat while he’s in the district. Coincidentally, state Senate Democratic leader Malcolm Smith — who would prefer for Aubertine to stay put — was supposed to be the keynote speaker at the party dinner, but he canceled because of the dramatic, ongoing fight for control of the state Senate.

While Aubertine could be the Democrats’ strongest possible contender, some party leaders fear that his Senate seat will be difficult to hold in a special election. The crisis in the state Senate could affect Aubertine’s deliberations.

As of press time Monday, Democrats and Republicans in the state Senate were negotiating a power-sharing agreement. A court in Albany has given them until 10 a.m. today to come up with a plan.