The North Country's big congressional election is just beginning to simmer, and if Doug Hoffman decides to jump into the mix, it will come to a boil pretty quickly.
But two of his biggest local supporters, Joe Spadaro and Ray Scollin, say they would instead back Matt Doheny if he nails down the Republican nomination.
Hoffman, a Lake Placid accountant, who ran unsuccessfully in 2009 and 2010, hasn't made a decision yet about whether he'll try again for the 23rd Congressional District seat currently held by Democratic U.S. Rep. Bill Owens. For now, he said he'll continue to keep an eye on the redistricting process happening in Albany.
"As I've been saying all along, I'm waiting to see where the magic lines are going to end up," Hoffman said in a phone interview Wednesday.
"Lake Placid was carved out (of the 23rd District) in 2002 with a 12-mile swath of Essex County going to the 20th District," he said. "With every district requiring 50,000 more people, who knows what will happen? One is going to have to go one way or the other."
Hoffman said he's stayed in touch with his supporters to "keep them interested.
"And they are, naturally," he said.
"I think when you look at when I started to run in August 2009, it's comforting to know that the original platform I ran on, that seemed so foreign at that time, is the mainstream politics now," Hoffman said. "Deficits, national debt, taxes and regulations seem to be the theme for everybody."
In 2009, Hoffman ran against Owens and Republican Dede Scozzafava in a special election after John McHugh left his seat in the House to become secretary of the Army. The race drew attention from the likes of Fox News and CNN, and became even more heated when Scozzafava dropped out and endorsed Owens, who went on to victory.
Hoffman tried again in 2010 but lost a Republican primary to Doheny, a businessman from Watertown. Owens ended up winning that election, too.
Scollin is the Republican state committeeman for Franklin County, and he also chairs Saranac Lake's Republican committee. He said Hoffman is a good man and a "conservative Republican that I was proud to support and work for." But this election cycle, he is fully supporting Doheny.
"We have had a declared candidate who knows the issues of our congressional district," Scollin said. "I believe strongly that all voters, but especially Republicans, need to solidify behind a candidate that can take back our representative seat from a dysfunctional Congress. This year, Matt Doheny is clearly that candidate."
Spadaro chairs Harrietstown's Republican committee. He said Doheny has been putting in a tremendous amount of work since declaring his candidacy in September 2011.
"If there's an event with just five people, he'll be there," Spadaro said. "I have good feelings about Matt Doheny. If he's the nominee, I'd support him."
Spadaro said that his "gut feeling" is that Hoffman won't run again.
"I have nothing concrete to go on, but that's how I feel," Spadaro said.
Hoffman said three years ago people thought it was laughable when he discussed things like the U.S. going bankrupt.
"You look now, and everybody is talking about it," he said. "These are exactly the same issues I brought up in 2009, which is what we still need to address and still need to solve if we're going to have a strong nation going forward."
Hoffman attended the Conservative Party Political Action Committee Conference in Albany earlier this week. He said he goes every year.
"I certainly want to stay involved because I am a true believer in what they're fighting for," Hoffman said.