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Democrat wins upstate N.Y. race

  |   Nov. 4, 2009 at 1:48 AM
WATERTOWN, N.Y., Nov. 4 (UPI) -- Democrat Bill Owens won a bizarre three-way special election in New York state's heavily Republican 23rd congressional district Tuesday.

Douglas Hoffman, the Conservative Party candidate who became the official Republican choice less than 72 hours before the polls opened, conceded around midnight, The New York Times reported. With most of the votes counted, he was trailing by a few thousand in the sprawling district on the Canadian border that has been represented in Congress by Republicans for generations.

The Republican candidate, centrist Dede Scozzafava, withdrew Saturday. The Republican leaders who praised her for leaving the field clear for Hoffman were furious when she endorsed Owens the next day.

Scozzafava had the backing of the local Republican establishment. But Hoffman, running as the candidate of New York's long-established Conservative Party, received the support of many Republican headliners, including former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and former U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson.

John McHugh, who had represented the district since 2003, winning with more than 60 percent of the vote in every election, resigned after President Barack Obama named him secretary of the army.

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