Three-Way in NY's 23rd?

If and when Republican Congressman John McHugh, who represents New York's 23rd Congressional District, is confirmed as Secretary of the Army by the Senate, a special election will be held to fill his seat. While Democrats have yet to nominate a candidate (rumor has it that they will do so this week), local Republican Party officials have already chosen State Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava, whose liberal views on social issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage have caused some amount of consternation among conservative Republicans both nationally and locally. In a previous post on prospects for the special election, I quoted Red State's Eric Erickson saying:
If Dede Scozzafava is the best the New York Republicans can come up with, let’s just hand the district over to the Democrats.
Such an attitude perfectly encapsulates the duopolist mentality fostered by the binary ideology of the two-party system. However, unlike the Red State Republican ideologue, conservatives in New York do not give up so easily. Late last week, leaders of the Conservative Party from the 23rd District endorsed Doug Hoffman to run for the seat on the Conservative Party ticket. Hoffman had apparently sought the GOP nomination, but was passed over in favor of Scozzafava. His endorsement by the Conservative Party leadership has thus riled some feathers among the party rank-and-file in upstate New York. Nonetheless, the special election is shaping up to be at least a three person race. Conventional wisdom would indicate that the Conservative and Republican Party candidates would split the conservative vote, however, given Scozzafava's positions on social issues, the Republican and Democratic Party candidates could very well split the liberal vote. In a short profile of Hoffman for Human Events, John Gizzi compares the candidate with James Buckley, who was elected Senator of New York on the Conservative Party line in 1970:
Along with being the lone “small-c” conservative in a race where the Republican and Democratic Party candidates are sure to both be liberal, Doug Hoffman’s situation in 2010 is very much akin to James Buckley’s in 1970 in another important way: the Conservative Party candidate is one with substance, contacts, and resources.

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