From NBC's Chuck Todd
As first reported by the Watertown Daily Times, the Republican nominee in the New York 23rd Congressional special election, Dede Scozzafava, announced this morning she's suspending her campaign. Her exit leaves Conservative Party nominee Doug Hoffman, who had garnered plenty of national GOP support, as the favorite to win what was a hotly-contested 3-way race. Republicans had feared that Hoffman and Scozzafava would split the Republican vote in this somewhat competitive district and hand the seat to Democrat Bill Owens. Former Republican Congressman John McHugh resigned his seat earlier this year after he was named by Pres. Obama to be the Secretary of the Army.
Democrats haven't held this seat since the 19th century but Obama did carry the 23rd District during the 2008 campaign. Local GOP leaders had named the more moderate Scozzafava the nominee over Hoffman as the makeup of the district led plenty of GOP strategists to believe they needed a moderate to carry the district. Hoffman decided to run as a Conservative Party candidate, something allowed in New York State, and national groups, like Club for Growth, weighed in big time.
Hoffman's rise has been thanks to a combination of conservatives and independents who apparently have been attracted by Hoffman's anti-Washington and anti-party establishment message. It's still an open question among some Republicans about whether Hoffman could have been as successful as the actual Republican nominee; running as an outsider has been a BIG benefit to his bid.
Democrats have spent over a million dollars on Owens' behalf but, of late, have been busy reminding reporters of the district's long Republican history. VP Biden is due in the district Monday in an attempt to rally the Democratic base but the math may change a tad now with Scozzafava's exit.