Poll: Owens and Hoffman in Dead Heat; Conservative Ducks Debate, Questions

hoffmanbanner3.jpgA recent Club for Growth poll showed Doug Hoffman, the Conservative candidate in NY-23 who has become a national rightwing cause celebre, leading the race by 4.3 points. As Club for Growth is one of Hoffman's strongest supporters, the poll's credibility was questioned. But today a Research 2000 poll -- commissioned by Daily Kos, whose affections do not that way tend -- finds Hoffman and Democrat Bob Owens in a virtual dead heat, with Owens only a point up. Republican Dede Scozzafava, shot by both sides, is over ten points back.

Hoffman has effectively marginalized Scozzafava, but his supporters, their anger at the GOP candidate's relative liberalism unabated, are still beating her up. An organization run by a Club for Growth board member released an ad pretending to be for Scozzafava, trumpting her "progressive" credentials -- which claim Scozzafava's campaign has gone out of its way not to make...

This is a classic political "dirty trick," but Hoffman supporters will tell you what the real crime is: "if there's a Republican dirty trick in NY23 it's the GOP's support for Scozzafava," rejoins Yes, But, However!. "People who know about dirty tricks have a name for this type of conduct: sabotage."

Hoffman has reacted wisely to his publicity windfall, letting his big-name supporters do most of the talking and staying off local issues, on which he seems not well-briefed: at a meeting with the Watertown Daily Times editorial board, Hoffman "was unable to articulate clear positions on a number of matters specific to Northern New Yorkers," the paper said. On a regional highway issue Hoffman said he was "open to studying the idea"; regarding "winter navigation and widening the St. Lawrence Seaway," he had no opinion. Fortunately he'd brought former House Majority Leader Dick Armey with him, and Armey denounced the Board's questions as "parochial." The Daily Times today endorses Scozzafava.

Hoffman bailed on a debate with Owens and Scozzafava yesterday, claiming that one of its sponsors, North Country Public Radio, was -- you guessed it -- controlled by liberals. (Later Hoffman's handlers said he gave it a miss because he had "individuals to meet and calls to make.") He claims he will join his opponents at a debate in Syracuse today.

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