SARANAC LAKE - Doug Hoffman says he will be moving to Saranac Lake within the month.
"I have a signed purchase agreement for a house in Saranac Lake," Hoffman said in a telephone interview Tuesday afternoon, on his way to a Republican event in Amsterdam. "I expect to close on that within a month, and I will be moving into that house. It will become my primary residence."
Hoffman ran as a Conservative to represent New York's 23rd District in Congress in 2009, and he formally announced late Monday that he will be running this year, too, seeking the Conservative, Republican and Independence party nominations. He grew up in Saranac Lake but has lived in Lake Placid, which is just outside the district, for years. Last year, he said he was in the process of buying a house on Saranac Lake's Riverside Drive as of Election Day; the deal on that house didn't go through, Hoffman said Tuesday.
23rd Congressional District candidate Doug Hoffman watches a parade for local Olympians Friday in Saranac Lake.
(Enterprise photo —Mike Lynch)
Hoffman said his prospective house is in the 23rd District, which means it is in either the town of Harrietstown or St. Armand. The town of North Elba, which includes Lake Placid and which also has a foothold in Saranac Lake, is in the 20th.
The district is currently represented by Bill Owens, D-Plattsburgh, who beat Hoffman by about 3,600 votes last November. Owens intends to run for re-election, and no Democratic primary challengers have emerged so far.
"We're going to be looking at every opportunity," Owens said Tuesday, when asked if he would also seek the Independence nod. "At this point, we're working very hard to try to get things done," giving the example of his recent efforts, which appear they will be successful, to get the Veterans Administration to establish a clinic in Saranac Lake as well as Elizabethtown.
"Politics is a second seat in that process," Owens said.
Hoffman's announcement didn't come as a surprise - he had said in several interviews since November 2009 that he planned to run again, and Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long said in February that Hoffman would have the party's endorsement. Hoffman said he decided to announce now because people had been asking him whether he planned to run, and he wanted to let people know it was definite.
Hoffman, who is a certified public accountant, also said helping prepare his clients' taxes helped push him to announce.
"Going through that cycle of tax returns this year, I got inspired more and more to run again," Hoffman said. "Like Americans all around the country, I'm fed up. It's time to fight back, (and) reduce spending and government regulations on us and our businesses."
Matt Doheny of Watertown and Assemblyman Will Barclay of Pulaski are also seeking the Republican nomination, and Franklin County Legislator Paul Maroun of Tupper Lake has said he is considering it but wants to see how he recovers from back surgery before making a decision.
Hoffman sought the Republican nomination last year as well, and ran against the Republican nominee, Dede Scozzafava, after promising along with the other Republican hopefuls (which included Doheny and Maroun) to support the eventual Republican nominee. This year, Barclay has criticized Hoffman for not signing a pledge to support the Republican nominee, whoever that might be.
"That's a very hypothetical question," Hoffman said Tuesday when asked if he would stay in the race if he lost a Republican primary. He cited a poll his campaign paid for in January that said 74 percent of likely Republican primary voters thought he should run again, and that shows him beating his three known potential opponents in a primary. Hoffman stressed, however, that he knew he would have to work for votes and didn't expect people to vote for him just because they voted for him last year.
"I don't expect anybody to hand me a nomination," Hoffman said. "I expect to work hard for it, and convince both the leaders and the voters that I'm the right person for the job."
Hoffman said in 2009 that he would not accept earmarks if elected, leading to criticism that numerous projects in the district, including ones at Fort Drum, have been funded by earmarks over the past years.
Hoffman said Tuesday that he still opposes the earmark system, citing the health care bill, which contained hundreds of millions in earmarks to convince conservative Democrats to vote for it, as an example of problems with the system. He did not say, however, that he wouldn't accept earmarks.
"When I get to Congress I'm going to get every single dollar that we can to help the 23rd District, but I think America in general has to have a reassessment of the earmark issue and stop using them as bribes," Hoffman said Tuesday.
Contact Nathan Brown at 891-2600 ext. 26 or firstname.lastname@example.org.