Posts Tagged ‘Douglas Hoffman’

Monday, June 6, 2011

Matt Doheny and the Non-Stop Campaign

Take a deep breath, folks. Now exhale.

I’m about to muse about the 2012 elections. And yes, I am fully aware that those elections aren’t happening until the next time we see an NFL team suit up and take the field (I’m already working under the assumption that there won’t be a season this fall – it helps, a little).

Watertown banker Matt Doheny made it known last week that he will run, again, for New York’s 23rd Congressional District. The seat is currently held by Democrat Bill Owens, and it’s starting to feel like Owens is defending his seat on a yearly basis.

Doheny gave Owens a run for his money last fall but fell short in the end – only a few thousand votes separated them.

Many political observers blamed Doheny’s loss on Saranac Lake accountant Doug Hoffman, who challenged him in the GOP primary and lost. Hoffman tried a third party bid on the Conservative line, but pulled out of the race weeks before the election.

Despite his decision to exit the race, more than 9,000 Hoffman supporters cast votes in his favor. It’s a crude way to do the math, but if you hand those votes to Doheny, he’s flying back and forth to Washington instead of Owens.

Doheny touts himself as a fiscal conservative, but was noticeably more moderate on social issues – perhaps explaining the lingering support for Hoffman on Election Day.

Hoffman had tea party support from the beginning, with hordes of volunteers teaming up with the Upstate New York Tea Party to pound the pavement across northern New York.

But after the primary, UNYTEA’s chairman, Mark Barie, endorsed Doheny, noting it was important to rally around one candidate. The rest of his organization was slow to follow suit, but in the end, most of the group got behind Doheny.

Following the election, there were two distinct lines up thought on the so-called “Hoffman effect.”

On one side, you had people like Jefferson County lawmaker Carolyn Fitzpatrick, a Republican:

“Matt didn’t lose this race. Doug Hoffman lost this race for the Republicans,” she said at the time. “I only wish that Doug Hoffman had come out, stood on stage and campaigned with Matt and said, ‘I support him.’ But that didn’t happen.”

On the other side, there were those who believed the Republican Party in NY-23 failed to roll out a candidate who represented the region’s conservatism. (Read more on the fallout/reaction from last year’s NY-23 race here and here).

And that GOP divide isn’t likely to go away next year.

In fact, looking at the results from a recent special election for a western New York House seat, the so-called “Hoffman effect” is alive and well in New York.

The national media reported Kathleen Hochul’s victory as a voter referendum on the GOP’s plan to turn Medicare into a voucher-style program. Hochul, a Democrat, beat out Republican Jane Corwin in a fairly conservative district.

But the national media zeroed-in on the Medicare issue – in fact, a lot of reporting failed to mention Jack Davis, the tea party candidate, who most likely pulled votes away from Corwin.

Sound familiar?

Here’s what I’m wondering: is Doheny’s early announcement an attempt to rally the GOP and keep this a two-way race? Or is it just that, an early announcement for a candidate who wants to get the ball rolling?

Your thoughts are welcome.

Meanwhile, it’s worth noting that Jude Seymour is joining the Doheny camp. Seymour wrote a great political blog for the Watertown Daily Times (All Politics is Local) and is currently wrapping up at WWNY television.

Seymour will serve as deputy campaign manager and spokesman for Doheny.

Photo: Matt Doheny (Courtesy Doheny For Congress).


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Commentary: The Cast of ‘Opposing Smart Development’

Despite undeniable proof that the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) almost never denies a permit, the usual anti-APA folks are currently rallying once again for another push against the regional planning and zoning board that has kept the Adirondacks from looking like a suburb of the Northeast megalopolis for more than 30 years. It’s time for those who support reasonable and responsible development in the Adirondack Park to step forward and let their voice be heard.

In case you went to the lobby during intermission, here’s a review of the cast of leading characters:

Maynard Baker: Despite his failed leadership that left Warrensburg perhaps the most poorly developed village in the Park – a virtual wreck of its former self – Maynard Baker persists in his angry denunciations of anything even approaching planning, zoning and smart development. Baker is the scariest of the cast, having once started a fistfight during the Battle of Crane Pond. His latest approach has been lawsuits, and threats of lawsuits. Most recently he is attempting to argue in court that veterans cannot access the Park. On Monday, Baker called the APA “terrorists” securing for all time that this guy is a dangerous demagogue.

Will Doolittle: Despite serious questions about his motives with regards to his reporting about the APA (detailed here, here, and here), Will Doolittle has started another campaign in the pages of the Glens Falls Post Star. That’s the same Post Star that called for the abolition of the APA in an editorial during Doolittle’s last round of APA attacks. You’d think that when your motives are questioned so seriously regarding your reporting of a particular subject, you’d leave those stories to someone else. Not Doolittle, apparently he and his bosses think it’s entirely appropriate to continue to put an anti-APA reporter on the job to cover the APA.

Kim Smith Dedam: One of only two women in the cast (Carol LaGrasse and her one-woman Property Rights Foundation of America is the other), Kim Smith Dedam is the Plattsburgh Press Republican‘s answer to accurate and judicious reporting of the APA and smart development in the Adirondacks. Her outright false claims, apparently designed to foster her agenda, are awful legend. Kim Smith Dedam can always be counted on to tell the story of development in the Adirondacks to the benefit of her handlers. Check out two stories that read like press releases: “Tupper Lake project projected to create 584 jobs” and “Veterans sue for seaplane access to Adirondack lakes.” Floatplane ban supporters? Kim Smith Dedam doesn’t think they’re necessary in a story about the ban on floatplanes, but that’s just one in what seems an unending litany of slanted stories about development issues in the Adirondacks.

Fred Monroe: When it comes to one-man bands, Fred Monroe plays the loudest. Overseeing the demise and awful strip development of Chestertown as the Supervisor of the Town Chester is not enough for Monroe, so he also collects a paycheck as the Chair of the economically challenged Warren County Board of Supervisors and a paycheck from bankrupt New York State as the voice of the anti-APA Local Government Review Board. That’s right, Monroe is paid by the Town, County, and State government – after a raise he gave himself last year, that’s more than $100,000 in taxpayer-funded salary. It’s no wonder that while he’s content to serve as a mouth-piece around the state for anti-APA activities and as the go-to guy for his media buddies, he came out last year to say that no, he doesn’t want the APA dissolved. And why would he? He’d be out of a job heading a one man (and one wife) tax supported board whose main focus has been to fight another tax funded board. That is the goose that laid the $100,000 egg.

Supporting Characters: The main characters are only part of an ensemble that includes such classic character actors as Don “Invasive Species Are A Bunch Of Bull” Lehman, the editors of Denton “You Can Count On Us” Publications, Betty “Blacklist” Little, Teresa “It’s US Versus Them” Sayward, and newly added to the cast, Doug “When I Get To Congress, I’ll Fight The APA” Hoffman.


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

2010 Elections: Statewide Third Parties, 23rd CD Update

I’ve got a few quick notes to pass along today.

For starters, I hope readers will take a look at some of the third party candidates running for state and federal office this fall.

Libertarian candidate Warren Redlich and Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins both submitted the mandatory minimum of 15,000 signatures to appear on the ballot in November.

As governor, Redlich says he’d stop wasting money and cut spending. He’d also cap bureaucrat’s salaries at $100,000.

Meanwhile, Hawkins is espousing the merits of a living wage for all New Yorkers. He also wants to see a greater investment in renewable energy and a ban on proposed hydrofracking as it relates to natural gas drilling.

Also running on the Libertarian line this fall is Manhattan attorney Carl Person. He’ll challenge a crowded slate of candidates angling for the attorney general’s seat.

Randy Credico and John Clifton have been tapped by the Libertarians to challenge U.S. Senate incumbents Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand. Both men oppose drug prohibition and support open immigration.

The Green Party has a couple candidates running in those senate races, too. Colia Clark will take on Schumer and Cecile Lawrence will run against Gillibrand.

Meanwhile, in New York’s 23rd Congressional District, Saranac Lake accountant Doug Hoffman picked up an endorsement from the National Defense Political Action Committee.

Here’s Hoffman’s response to the endorsement:

“As a veteran myself, who trained at Fort Drum, I understand our nations need to be eternally vigilant in this age of global terror,” he said. “On land, sea, and in the air, our troops must be the best equipped and most professionally trained fighting force in the world. We owe this to those who serve and to those they protect. As a Congressman I will stand shoulder to shoulder with the National Defense PAC as we work to achieve these goals for our nation, our military, our veterans and their families.”

Also, Matt Doheny was on the campaign trail all weekend long. Check out Jude Seymour’s coverage here.

Finally, the chairman of the Upstate New York Tea Party is expecting a large turnout for the Sept. 1 debate in Plattsburgh.


Monday, July 5, 2010

Doheny to Hoffman: “Let’s debate”

It looks like Matt Doheny is ready for action.

The Watertown businessman and Republican candidate in this fall’s 23rd Congressional District election wants to debate Doug Hoffman before the September 14 primary.

Doheny doesn’t want one debate, either – he wants 11, one for each county in the district.

“This is a critical election year,” Doheny wrote in a letter sent to Hoffman. “Republicans, indeed all the people in the North Country, the Adirondack region and central New York deserve to hear from both of us as we discuss and debate the issues, so they can make the best decision on Election Day.”

Doheny has locked-up endorsements from nine out of the 11 county GOP committees; the remaining two have opted to not endorse a candidate.

Hoffman has Conservative Party support and is being backed by the Upstate New York Tea Party (UNYTEA).

Both men are gunning for the seat currently held by Congressman Bill Owens, a Democrat from Plattsburgh.

Hoffman’s spokesman, Rob Ryan, said the candidate welcomes the opportunity to debate Matt Doheny.

“It will be interesting to discuss job creation in the North Country, cutting waste and the size of federal government in Washington and Mr. Doheny’s strong support of his liberal friend, Dede Scozzafava, in last November’s election,” he said.

Illustration: Doug Hoffman’s concession speech last November by Almanack contributor Mark Wilson.


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Election Day Sketchpad 7: Hoffman Concedes

Doug Hoffman conceded at 12:10 a.m., thanking “every single person out there who joined my team and fought for America. This was the biggest hill I’ve ever faced, and I’m a 46er, so I’ve faced plenty of them.”

The crowd at the Hotel Saranac had thinned but was enthusiastic, especially when the Conservative talked about an unlikely campaign that grew into a phenomenon. They cheered lines like, “We have to remember that a government that serves us everything takes away our freedoms.”

“We gotta fight back!’” members of the audience yelled. And they might, in a year, but Hoffman did not get into that tonight.

Hoffman said he called to congratulate Congressman Elect Bill Owens, who will be the first non-Republican to represent the district since the 1850s, and offered to help him to bring jobs to the area. “Let’s work with him together, but let’s make sure we get the message out there: we can’t spend money we don’t have.”

He closed with, “You don’t have to be polished, you don’t have to be poised, you don’t have to be a rock star to be a politician, so let’s all step up to the plate.”


Sunday, November 1, 2009

23rd CD Web Watch: Friend for a Day

Over the course of an eventful weekend in New York’s 23rd CD, Lake Placid resident and congressional aspirant Douglas Hoffman showed the flexibility of a skilled politician in declaring two significantly disparate feelings for his former Republican rival. On Saturday, Hoffman’s website displayed a heartfelt tribute to Dede Scozzafava.
Sunday brought a new week, a new month, a new clock setting, and a new emotion from the Conservative Party Candidate (click right image to enlarge)


Sunday, November 1, 2009

23rd CD: Scozzafava Endorses Democrat Bill Owens

In a last minute move Republican Candidate Dede Scozzafava, who only yesterday withdrew from Tuesday’s election for the 23rd Congressional District, has announced that she is throwing her support to her Democratic opponent, Bill Owens. Scozzafava withdrew after garnering only 20 percent in the latest poll—she has said that she does not have the money to wage the all-out media effort required to close the gap. In endorsing Owens over Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman, Scozzafava cited the Democrat’s independence.

“I have been always been an independent voice for the people I represent,” Scozzafava wrote to her supporters today. “I have stood for our honest principles, and a truthful discussion of the issues, even when it cost me personally and politically. Since beginning my campaign, I have told you that this election is not about me; it’s about the people of this District. It is in this spirit that I am writing to let you know I am supporting Bill Owens for Congress and urge you to do the same.”

Following Scozzafava’s withdrawal on Saturday the National Republican Congressional Committee, who had backed Scozzafava, announced that it would put it’s full efforts behind Doug Hoffman.


Sunday, November 1, 2009

Analysis: October Surprise in the 23rd Congressional District Race

On Saturday, when Dede Scozzafava’s campaign bus turned into a pumpkin, it came as a shock but not a surprise to North Country political observers. The unpredictable five-month, three-party campaign to fill the vacated House seat of Army Secretary John McHugh was elevated in its early stages to a war of surrogates for political forces both at the state and national levels, according to a close observer of New York GOP politics.

The source—speaking on background—said Scozzafava’s attempts to court organized labor (specifically her support for the Employees’ Free Choice Act) was responsible more than any other issue for attracting the political action committee Club for Growth to the campaign of Conservative Party candidate Douglas Hoffman. The money and advertisements that followed “put Dede in a position where she never had a chance to define herself.”

Former Democratic Rural Conference Chairman Stuart Brody, who lost a bid to become his party’s nominee in this election, agrees that outside attention and campaign contributions had a distorting effect on the race: “Money often obscures the message.”

While the National Republican Congressional Committee (which took charge of the Scozzafava campaign in September) was framing the contest as a referendum on Democratic policies and leadership in Washington, and the conservative media were building the Hoffman campaign into a referendum on both Democrats and centrist Republicans, New York State Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long was using the insurgent Hoffman campaign to bend the State GOP ideologically to the right. “Mike Long feels he has something to prove,” according to the Republican Party observer.

And if Thursday’s defection to Hoffman’s camp of former Governor George Pataki notched a victory for the Conservative Party leader, Stuart Brody believes that “what Mike Long thinks means nothing. . . . Ultimately, the North Country is moderate. Folks think for themselves.”

Asked how he sees Scozzafava’s withdrawal effecting Tuesday’s result, Brody departs from the conventional wisdom that Hoffman will benefit. In step with his faith in the independent mindset of the North Country electorate, he feels that a portion of Scozzafava supporters, particularly those driven by organized labor interests, will find their way to Democrat Bill Owens.

Our Republican Party observer points out that it may be too late for the move to produce a large-scale change, citing the layout of the ballots on which Bill Owens holds line A, followed by Scozzafava on lines B and C, followed by Doug Hoffman on line D.

As for Wednesday, the lack of a Republican candidate does not guarantee any less intense an effort to impound and count and recount the ballots. With so much at stake from every angle, a close outcome at the polls will assuredly give way to a recount phase as long as (and exceeding the cost of) the campaign itself. Ask any of your next door neighbors of NY-20.

And the day after a victor finally emerges? The seat will be up for grabs again in less than a year; a mid-term election is already well under way in most districts. Former candidate Stuart Brody anticipates that a Democratic winner will be immediately challenged by Republicans. In the event of a Hoffman victory, Brody expects that a number of Democrats will step forward to challenge the Conservative—a number which may include himself.


Saturday, October 31, 2009

23rd CD: Dede Scozzafava Drops Out of the Race

In a move that has the potential to shift the outcome of the coming election for the 23rd Congressional District spot once held by fellow Republican John McHugh, Dede Scozzafava has announced that she has suspended her campaign. Scozzafava, a state assemblywoman, has not yet given her support to either of her opponents, Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman, or Democrat Bill Owens. A Siena poll released today has Owens at 36 percent of likely voters, Hoffman at 35 percent, and Scozzafava at 20 percent.

“In recent days, polls have indicated that my chances of winning this election are not as strong as we would like them to be. The reality that I’ve come to accept is that in today’s political arena, you must be able to back up your message with money,” Scozzafava wrote in a statement to supporters.


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Analysis: The Inevitable Halloween/Election Day Cartoon

Say you’re a cartoonist, and you own a bar at the intersection of October and November. And once a year at this season two patrons—Halloween and Election Day—walk in and sit down just a couple barstools apart. They never really talk. They just show up, year in and year out. Despite their vast differences in age, temperament, cultural tradition, and costume, you will inevitably come to the conclusion that these misfits were destined to be together. And for the rest of your career you will devote one day a year to drawing a cartoon that somehow marries the two. Some of these cartoons work out better than others.

This may be a promising year if your bar is located in New York’s 23rd congressional district. Few house races in memory can match this year’s special election for Halloween parallels. Consider the following features:

• A Democratic candidate who looked a lot more like a Republican before he put on the traditional donkey costume;
• A Republican candidate who looks like a liberal to moderates, and looks like an Elvis impersonator to conservatives;
• A Conservative candidate with a devilish grin;

Throw in a candidate endorsement from former House Majority Leader Dick Armey in a cowboy hat and candidate bodies which mysteriously disappear the day of scheduled debates, and you have good raw material for a frightful cartoon.

Of course, if it doesn’t work out, there’s always next year.


Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Existentialism in the 23rd Congressional District

Consider the Existentialist dilemma of the candidates seeking New York’s 23rd Congressional District seat. You may recall Existentialism from high school French class or a movie date in college: the hard-to-pin-down philosophy supported largely on the precepts that 1) Orthodoxies and doctrines are meaningless 2) We all live for the moment and determine our fate by our choices, and 3) We’re all doomed anyway, so what the heck. Toss in words like “ennui” and “angst” and you’ve pretty much covered it.

Anyway, on June 2nd, when John McHugh accepted President Obama’s nomination to become Secretary of the Army, he triggered a five-month-long campaign to fill his House seat, a campaign which will end at the polls on November 3rd.

The abbreviated schedule means that the traditional binary and sequential format of American campaigns—an ideological race (left v. right) in the primaries followed by a partisan race (R v. D) in the general election—must be fought concurrently. As a consequence, the race for the 23rd features a pro-choice, pro-gay-marriage Republican who falls somewhere to the left of the opposing “centrist” Democrat, who was never really a Democrat before and doesn’t even mention the word all that often, and a Conservative who falls just to the left of a Viking on social issues. Contemporary political dogma will not help the disoriented voter in this election.

The foreshortened calendar has also served to concentrate the negative advertising in the race. While the regionally-recognized candidates need to define themselves (more by their actions than their party affiliations) across the sprawling district, they (and their surrogates) are already spending more time and money undefining each other—complete with ominous tones, distorted voting records and unflattering likenesses.

Perhaps the most resonant existential element of the 23rd CD race is the utter futility of the goal itself. Whoever wins the right to represent New York’s northernmost citizens will immediately have to gear up a defense of the seat in 2010, a tough job, with or without an extended recount. The 2010 election coincides with the decennial census, and the expected loss of two New York congressional seats in the ensuing redistribution. The choice of which districts to eliminate during reapportionment will fall to a state legislature that owes nothing to whichever rookie legislator occupies the seat.

In short, the best scenario that the victor of the November 3rd special election can hope for goes something like this: Beneath heavy Washington skies, following swearing in to the remainder of the 111th Congress, the Distinguished Representative, along with a few other members from terminal districts in Ohio and Pennsylvania will convoke the Jean-Paul Sartre Caucus at a cafe somewhere off DuPont Circle. Over espressos and Gauloises they will grimly deconstruct the lyrics of “Born to Run,” shrug twice, then disappear forever. C’est la vie.



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