Doug Hoffman, the Conservative Party candidate in the special NY 23 election, has withdrawn his concession.
Hoffman, who jumped in the race in response to the "liberal" positions of the Republican Party candidate, state Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava — a decision that ultimately forced Scozzafava out of the race — conceded to Democrat Bill Owens on election night. At the time, Hoffman trailed Owens by about 5,000 votes. (Owens was quickly sworn in, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi dearly needed his presence for the Nov. 7 vote on health care.)
By winning the seat vacated by now-Army Secretary John McHugh, Owens became the first Democrat to represent the area in upstate New York in more than 100 years.
End of story? Hardly. After some tabulating errors were discovered, Owens' lead over Hoffman shrunk to 3,026 votes. But there are as many as 10,000 oustanding absentee and paper ballots that only today will begin to be counted. (And that number could be far less; 10,000 absentee ballots were requested ... we don't know exactly how many were returned.) Hoffman "unconceded" today on Glenn Beck's national radio show.
Conceding an election doesn't necessarily mean anything, other than it's a gracious way of congratulating a victorious opponent. But it holds no legal meaning. Al Gore conceded to George W. Bush on election night 2000, only to withdraw that concession when Florida turned out to be too close to call. (He conceded once again, on Dec. 13, only after the U.S. Supreme Court ended his hopes of finding victory in the legal system.)
Plus, we have no way of knowing where those absentee votes went. Many military votes — the district includes Fort Drum — could very well have gone to Scozzafava; Owens himself has Air Force credentials. So who knows? But we should know soon.
And if it turns out that Hoffman got more votes than Owens? Well, aside from a potential court challenge, Hoffman would be declared the winner. And Owens' House tenure would be among the shortest in history.
Lots of "ifs" there. But NY 23, which captivated the political world this fall, continues to hold our attention.