Sabato's Crystal Ball

New York (23) House 2010

Crystal Ball Outlook: Leans R

Democratic candidate: Bill Owens, Incumbent

Republican candidate: Matt Doheny, Businessman

Recent Updates from the Crystal Ball

Update: October 7, 2010

Remember November? The new Republican tagline also sounds a cautionary note regarding this upstate New York district. In November 2009, just as Republicans were sweeping to victory in the New Jersey and Virginia governors’ races, the GOP fumbled away this House seat in a special election. Democrat Bill Owens became the new congressman due to infighting between Conservative Party nominee Doug Hoffman and Republican nominee Dede Scozzafava over the nomination process and Scozzafava’s moderate to liberal positions. In the end it was Scozzafava who dropped out at the last minute to try to salvage the seat, but the cake was baked. Again this year Hoffman will carry the Conservative Party label with the Republican mantle belonging to Matt Doheny, a much more conservative nominee than Scozzafava. After being abandoned by the Tea Party and donors who had supported last year’s bid, Hoffman endorsed Doheny this week and will cease campaigning, although his name may remain on the ballot. With a major stumbling block for Republicans now removed, the Crystal Ball changes our rating from Leans Democratic to Toss-Up.

Background:

Democratic incumbent Bill Owens is facing Republican challengers Matt Doheny and Doug Hoffman, but hopes to keep his seat that he won in a special election last November.  Politically, the 23rd district has been historically Republican, but more inclined toward moderates than conservatives.  As seen in the last election, the district has beome somewhat torn by its loyalties to both parties.

Owens has the advantages of having his party’s support, having a financial edge over his opponent, and being able to use his voting record to make his case to voters.  Doheny, a businessman, has the advantages of being able to use his business background to attract some voters and being a Republican candidate in a Republican-trending midterm year.  Likewise, Hoffman, the 2009 Conservative nominee, has the advantage of already introducing himself to voters and receiving the Conservative Party’s support.