LAKE PLACID - Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long is leaning toward Lake Placid accountant Doug Hoffman as the party's candidate for New York's 23rd District Congressional seat.
Hoffman announced Thursday that he is running as a Conservative, and Long told the New York Daily News that he is "leaning toward, without a doubt," Hoffman. Long met Hoffman last weekend when he came to Lake Placid to watch his son Matt compete in the Ironman triathlon.
Jim Kelly, of Wilmington, and Jon Alvarez, of Hannibal, are also seeking the Conservative nomination. Hoffman also sought the Republican nomination, but the Republicans chose Dierdre Scozzafava last week.
"He was competitive for the Republican nomination because of his business contacts in almost every county in the district, because of his personal wealth and his capacity to raise money," Long told the Daily News. "I think he winds up becoming a very, very serious threat and a possible win for this seat."
Kelly, a retired New York City police detective who has been active in the Conservative Party since 1993, said Long has sent out a "very strong signal," and he will "stay at bay until I receive further communication from my chairman. I am a conservative party team player."
"I believe in cutting taxes and spending," Hoffman said in a prepared statement. "My views on terrorism, the economy, health care, the Second Amendment and a host of other issues closely mirror the views of the voters and that's why I'm running."
Rep. John McHugh is the congressional seat's current occupant, and his Senate Committee confirmation hearing as Army secretary started Thursday. If confirmed, he is expected to resign, and Gov. David Paterson would then call a special election.
The 11 county Republican Party chairs in the district chose Scozzafava last week out of a field of nine candidates, and Long and Kelly said soon after that she is too liberal and the Conservative Party would not endorse her. The Democrats released a list of 11 candidates earlier this week, and their county chairs will choose a candidate on Aug. 10. One of the Democratic candidates is Andrew Bisselle, who also sought the Republican nomination along with Hoffman and Scozzafava but is now seeking the Democratic one.
Long and Hoffman have also said the Republicans should consider choosing another candidate, noting that the nomination is not official and wouldn't be made so until McHugh is confirmed.
Hoffman is a managing partner with Dragon Benware Crowley & Co., P.C., a firm with six locations from Malone to Watertown, including Saranac Lake and Lake Placid. Hoffman says his 32 years working with tax law brought him to "understand the effect that taxes have on the everyday citizens, the dreams that have been destroyed and the burden they've placed on the backs of the average American."
Hoffman will need a "Wilson Pakula," or authorization from the Conservative Party, to run as its candidate, as he is not a registered Conservative.
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