Why Is Hoffman 'Un-Conceding' NY-23 Loss?

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The big drama of the 2009 election cycle was New York's 23rd Congressional district, where third-party candidate Doug Hoffman flipped what should have been an easy Republican win. National grassroots conservatives pushed for Hoffman over official GOP candidate Dede Scozzafava, who dropped out late in the race and endorsed Democrat Bill Owens. Considered unlikely to win the long-held Republican district, Owens eked out a victory thank to the Republican civil war. But now Hoffman has "un-conceded" and plans to challenge his loss.

Post-election recanvassing by Hoffman's campaign has shown that he may have lost by as few as 3,000 votes, not 5,000 as was initially thought. With 10,000 absentee ballots requested in the district, Hoffman would have to secure at least two thirds of of absentee votes to pull ahead. But that assumes that every requested absentee was returned, and the less of those that ended up being cast, the wider a margin Hoffman would need to win. It's a long shot. So why bother?

  • Hoffman Needs 70-80% Of Absentees  David Weigel points to Republican candidate Dede Scozzafava, who may have still gathered a number of absentee ballots, especially those cast before her withdrawal. "While [Hoffman spokesman Rob] Ryan pointed out that Hoffman’s victory scenario always involved a three-way race with Owens and Scozzafava, Democrats pointed out to me that the presence of Scozzafava votes further shrink Hoffman’s margin for error. What if 10,000 people voted absentee and she won 3,000 of their votes? That would force Hoffman to win the remaining ballots by a 5-2 margin in order to pass Owens." He added, "I’m hearing that only 6000 absentee ballots total will have been returned. Let’s say Scozzafava won only around 1000 of them–probably quite a bit lower than her actual totals. That would require Hoffman to pick up four of every remaining five absentee ballots."
  • So What?  Conservative blogger Allahpundit praises the move as "smart politics" even though a win is "improbable." He writes, "(a) it’s an excuse for Beck and other big-name media figures to extend his time in the spotlight ahead of next year’s rematch with Owens and (b) it indirectly reminds voters of how narrow the margin was in the House for PelosiCare."
  • Glenn Beck's Influence  Think Progress's Amanda Terkel suggests that "prodding" from Glenn Beck led to Hoffman's decision. "If anyone could get Hoffman to unconcede the race, it would be Beck, whom Hoffman has called his 'mentor.' Hoffman has signed a pledge to uphold Beck’s 9/12 Project principles in Congress and lurched to the right to curry favor with the right-wing host." Hoffman announced he was "un-conceding" in response to pointed question from Beck on his radio show.
  • Glenn Beck's Puppet  Gawker's Alex Pareene puts it more forcefully. "Hoffman has decided that his concession was premature. Well, Glenn Beck decided that Hoffman's concession was premature. And Hoffman just does whatever Glenn Beck says. Because he is a true conservative." Pareene announced the move, "Heroic Loser Conservative To Become Upstate New York's Norm Coleman," describing Hoffman as "the Conservative Party candidate who won the endorsement of real Republicans and then lost the race for Congress because he did not live in the district or know much about it?"
  • 'Double-Plus-Good Win'  FireDogLake's TBogg mocks the conservative argument that Hoffman's loss was actually a "win" for the grassroots movement because it demonstrated their influence. "Since Hoffman and the conservatives already declared a win by losing this means that Doug Hoffman can now win and therefore not win-lose! And if he loses again that means he will double-plus-good win and he gets two not-counts votes in Congress."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.