Democrats for the first time have begun turning their TV ad fire on Conservative Party nominee Doug Hoffman in the upstate New York special election to succeed former Rep. John McHugh (R), reflecting the belief that he is a growing threat to attorney Bill Owens (D), who has benefited from the ideological split among Republicans in the race.
New ads by Owens and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee on Monday came as a new poll showed Hoffman with the lead in the three-way race. The poll was paid for by the anti-tax Club for Growth, one of Hoffman’s main sources of financial support in the race, and showed Hoffman with 31 percent, Owens at 27 percent and state Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava (R) in third place with 20 percent.
That contradicts another recent poll, released Friday by the liberal blog Daily Kos in conjunction with Research 2000, which showed Owens maintaining a narrow lead over Scozzafava and Hoffman in third. The club also released a poll earlier in the race that showed Hoffman in a far more competitive position than independent polling.
But no one denies that Hoffman has seen a surge in support, thanks to a growing push from national conservatives, and that he is likely to be a huge factor in the race.
With one week to go, the surrogate wars have reached a fevered pitch in the race, and Republican endorsements over the weekend continued to split between the Conservative Party and GOP nominees in the race.
In the past few days, Hoffman has added to his list of conservative endorsements, which include former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas) and a number of national conservative advocacy groups, with nods from former vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin; Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.), who is running in a contested Senate primary; former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.); and wealthy publisher and 1996 and 2000 GOP presidential candidate Steve Forbes.
The common refrain — Hoffman is the “true Republican— in the race.
Conservatives have balked at Scozzafava’s candidacy because of her backing of gay marriage and abortion rights and her ties to organized labor, among other criticisms.
On Saturday, Scozzafava appeared with two female Republican moderates in Congress, Sen. Susan Collins (Maine) and Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite (Fla.), who sought to push back against the criticism, lauding the longtime state Assemblywoman as “principled— and “independent.—