Update: Hoffman Reverses, Will Make Local Appearance After All
Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman has changed his mind, and will make a north country appearance Thursday night after all.
Hoffman had planned to skip a 'Meet the Candidates Night' at the SUNY ESF Ranger School in Wanakena in order to do national media interviews in Syracuse.
But after some sharp questioning of his campaign staff at a Watertown campaign event Thursday morning, and a session at the Watertown Times where Hoffman was grilled on local, specific issues (story here) a campaign aide called the head of the Ranger School, Chris Westbrook, and said the campaign believes it's more important to make the Wanakena session.
The event is a 'Meet The Candidates' night for the Star Lake area, sponsored by the Clifton-Fine Economic Development Corporation.
Before Hoffman's change of heart, Westbrook told 7 News Thursday morning that he is 'frustrated' by the Hoffman's camp's decision.
Westbrook said he has worked with all three candidates in the race for the 23rd Congressional District for about a month.
"It's been a very frustrating process."
"Mr. Hoffman's campaign did say it's a very fluid schedule, but we were counting on him being here tonight," Westbrook said.
The event is non-partisan; the Clifton-Fine Economic Development Corp. has run 'Meet The Candidate' nights since the late 90s.
Westbrook also said Democratic candidate Bill Owens' camp had asked him 'to be patient,' and never committed to tonight's appearance - but didn't say 'no' either, until an email Tuesday.
Westbrook then discovered Owens had a long standing commitment to appear tonight at the Jefferson County Democratic dinner.
That left - before Hoffman's change of heart - Republican Dede Scozzafava as the only candidate making an appearance
Hoffman is travelling to Syracuse today, where he will appear again with conservative icon and former House majority leader Dick Armey.
They made a joint appearance in Watertown with about a hundred supporters Thursday morning.
"The Republicans lost this race when they put up that big spending liberal candidate, a candidate that's for 'card check,' that a candidate thinks the President's stimulus plan was a good idea," Armey told the crowd. "It's just simply not what the voters are looking for."
Thursday, December 8, 2016, Watertown, NY
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