Matt Doheny's lead over Doug Hoffman is greater than the number of absentee ballots left to count, making him the Republican nominee in New York's 23rd Congressional District.
With final absentee tallies in from seven of the district's 11 counties, Doheny had 16,080 votes, 740 more than Hoffman's 15,340, with only about 500 absentees left to add to the tally.
Hoffman's spokesman did not return numerous telephone calls Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning. Hoffman has previously said he would stay in the race on the Conservative line if he loses the primary, at other times calling this a "hypothetical" question and not answering it. He didn't say what his plans were when asked by WRVO radio in Syracuse earlier this week.
(Enterprise file photo — Jessica Collier)
Clinton, Franklin, Essex and Oneida counties did not have final numbers available this morning, although counting was finished in Clinton, Essex and Franklin. Franklin County's absentees were trending in the same direction as its election night results, officials said Wednesday morning. Hoffman carried the county by about 70 percent of the vote.
Doheny, a Watertown portfolio manager, and Hoffman, a Saranac Lake accountant, were both vying for the Republican nomination to run for the seat currently held by Rep. Bill Owens, D-Plattsburgh. Owens is running for re-election. The election is in six weeks.
The deadline for absentees to come in was Tuesday, provided they had been postmarked by Sept. 13, and most boards of elections throughout the district opened theirs Tuesday and Wednesday. They need to send in their final, certified results today. Doheny was ahead by about 600 votes after the polls closed on Sept. 14, but there were about 2,000 absentees that had been received back, still to be added to the tally then.
County-by-county final unofficial results:
Fulton: Hoffman 865, Doheny 831
Hamilton: Doheny 420, Hoffman 282
Jefferson: Doheny 2,920, Hoffman 2,421
Lewis: Doheny 798, Hoffman 759
Madison: Doheny 1,972, Hoffman 1,646
Oswego: Doheny 3,343, Hoffman 2,832
St. Lawrence: Doheny 2,898, Hoffman 2,313
Counties without absentee numbers
Clinton: Hoffman 1,577 Doheny 893
Essex: Hoffman 1,004, Doheny 769
Franklin: Hoffman 844, Doheny 340
Oneida: Doheny 896, Hoffman 797
Hoffman's campaign said on Sept. 15 they would wait until the votes were counted before deciding what to do.
Hoffman's headquarters in Watertown and Plattsburgh have been closed. His main building in Saranac Lake still has a Hoffman banner on it, but there hasn't been much activity apparent since the primary.
Hoffman's name will be on the Conservative line even if he doesn't actively campaign; Doheny is also on the Independence line. However, the Upstate New York Tea Party, which was crucial in Hoffman's petition drives and get-out-the-vote efforts during the primary, might support Doheny in the general election.
UNYTEA Chairman Mark Barie, who blasted Hoffman's campaign management the day after the primary and has appeared to be moving toward Doheny since then, said about 200 of UNYTEA's 1,000-odd members have responded by e-mail to a poll about what UNYTEA should do. He said members have been about equally divided between supporting Hoffman and Doheny, compared to earlier this year when about 95 percent of them supported Hoffman.
"Obviously, the overall conclusion is Hoffman has lost a lot of support because of his apparent defeat," Barie said Wednesday afternoon. "The poll started Monday. As news gets out he has officially been defeated, you're going to see a rapid and more significant erosion of Doug's support."
Barie also said the poll asks whether Doheny or Hoffman is more likely to beat Owens; Doheny is ahead in these answers. It also asks respondents to rank which issues they think are most important. "Federal spending and deficits" is in the lead, followed by "protecting Constitutional rights." Other issues, including "abortion," are ranking in the low single digits, according to Barie.
Barie said Doheny's campaign reached out to UNYTEA Tuesday afternoon, and agreed to meet with the group's leadership and possibly with its rank-and-file members.
There doesn't seem to have been much pattern with the absentees. Doheny carried Fulton County with the absentees even though Hoffman carried the county, getting 64 absentees to Hoffman's 48. Doheny got 41 absentees in Hamilton County to 35 for Hoffman, or 53 percent; he carried the county on election night by 60 percent. In Lewis County, which Doheny won with 51 percent of the vote on Primary Day, he got a greater share of the absentees - 43 to Hoffman's 31.
On election night, Hoffman carried the four eastern counties of Franklin, Clinton, Essex and Fulton, and Doheny carried the rest. Hoffman did better with the absentees than on election night in Oswego County, adding 176 absentees to 185 for Doheny, meaning Doheny got 51 percent of the absentees there but 54 percent of the vote at the polls.
In Jefferson and St. Lawrence, however, Doheny's absentee percentages exceeded his primary night totals. He got 176 absentee votes in St. Lawrence County and 192 in Jefferson, compared to 100 in St. Lawrence for Hoffman and 134 in Jefferson.
Other than adding the absentee ballots, election officials throughout the district reported no changes from the unofficial totals gathered from the machines.
"It was perfect," said Jefferson County Democratic Election Commissioner Sean Hennessey. "It's great, the way we reported it with the chips was just fantastic."
This year, for the first time, every county in the district used electronic voting machines where people voted on paper ballots. The results were recorded on computer chips that then had to be transported to the various county seats to be read and tallied. This led to the results becoming available later on election night than in the past, when they could be reported by telephone, but it also led to no changes during the recanvassing of the ballots.
Last year, recanvassing led Hoffman to pick up about 2,000 votes, and he withdrew his concession to Owens for a period before reconceding after the final results came in.
Franklin County had already used these machines in the 2009 election, but they were used for the first time in Essex County in this month's primary.
Contact Nathan Brown at 518-891-2600 ext. 26 or firstname.lastname@example.org.