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It's conservatives vs. Republicans in New York congressional race. Could infighting help Democrats?

October 29, 2009 |  7:25 am

NY-23 has everything a political junkie could want in an election -- drama, fireworks, an uncertain outcome.

It all started when President Obama tapped Republican John McHugh to be secretary of the Army. McHugh was one of only three Republicans in the New York congressional delegation, from the 23rd Congressional District, a district so far north it abuts Canada, a traditionally Republican stronghold that went for Obama in 2008. The White House no doubt hoped this could be a Democratic pickup in the House.

Early on, the GOP establishment tapped a moderate Republican who might appeal across party lines -- state legislator Dede Scozzafava, who supports abortion rights and same-sex marriage. In the early polling, she was leading. And she is still the choice of the party, winning recent support from Chairman Michael Steele and 2012 aspirant Newt Gingrich.

Like Republicans, Democrats thought the race would be decided in the middle. Their choice: Bill Owens, a Plattsburgh attorney and a registered Independent.

But when the Conservative Party tapped Doug Hoffman, a certified public accountant and a conservative, he attracted support from the Washington-based Club for Growth. Ever since, with money and message, Hoffman has been gaining ground and winning support from a bevy of conservatives, most prominently former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

Here's Dick Armey's two cents.

With the election a few days away, the latest polling, ala RealClearPolitics.com, shows Hoffman gaining ground. Scozzafava led in late September, with 35% to 28% for Owens and 16% for Hoffman. As Hoffman took support away from Scozzafava, Owens took the lead over her by four to five points in mid-October. Now, with star endorsements from Palin et al, one poll has Hoffman leading with 31%, Owens at 27% and Scozzafava at 20%.

There's no runoff here so Tuesday's election will tell the tale.

- Johanna Neuman

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