Scozzafava Backs Democrat Owens in N.Y. Special Election

Posted November 1, 2009 at 2:17pm

Less than 24 hours after abandoning her bid for New York’s 23rd district, Republican Dede Scozzafava endorsed Democrat Bill Owens over Conservative Party nominee Doug Hoffman.Scozzafava abruptly exited the race Saturday afternoon after polls showed her falling into third place in the special election to replace former Rep. John McHugh (R-N.Y.). Big names within the GOP establishment had been turning away from Scozzafava and instead were lining up behind Hoffman, an accountant.In a statement, Scozzafava said Owens, an attorney, is the best fit to continue McHugh’s legacy in Congress. McHugh is now President Barack Obama’s Army secretary. “You know me, and throughout my career, I have been always been an independent voice for the people I represent,— said Scozzafava, a longtime state assemblywoman. “I have stood for our honest principles, and a truthful discussion of the issues, even when it cost me personally and politically. Since beginning my campaign, I have told you that this election is not about me; it’s about the people of this District.“It is in this spirit that I am writing to let you know I am supporting Bill Owens for Congress and urge you to do the same.—Scozzafava added: “In Bill Owens, I see a sense of duty and integrity that will guide him beyond political partisanship. He will be an independent voice devoted to doing what is right for New York. Bill understands this district and its people, and when he represents us in Congress he will put our interests first.—After Scozzafava suspended her campaign Saturday, Owens released a statement that praised the state assemblywoman. Hoffman’s statement, however, did not make mention of her at all.The endorsement also comes as the Watertown Times, Scozzafava’s hometown paper, switched its support to Owens. Although Republican House leaders and the National Republican Congressional Campaign had backed Scozzafava, they were quick to rally behind Hoffman on Saturday after she announced she was leaving the race. And on Sunday, Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) pledged to help Hoffman secure a seat on the Armed Services Committee, on which McHugh had been the ranking member.“Doug Hoffman has our full support for the next available seat on the House Armed Services Committee so he can best serve the interests of Fort Drum and the troops and military families of New York’s Twenty-Third Congressional District,— the two leaders said in a statement.According to the latest party committee reports covering independent expenditure spending in the race, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s total investment now stands at $1.1 million. The NRCC has spent $897,000, and the anti-tax Club for Growth, which backs Hoffman, has spent at least $339,000. Other outside groups gave also spent on behalf of both sides.Even though she is no longer a candidate, Scozzafava’s name will still appear on the ballot, and she will inevitably draw some votes.