This is bad news for Democratic Rep. Bill Owens. Conservative Party nominee and Republican primary loser Doug Hoffman has dropped out of the race for NY-23. From Politico:

Doug Hoffman has dropped out of the race to represent New York’s 23rd Congressional District. Hoffman’s name will still appear on the ballot on the Conservative line; however, Hoffman said Tuesday morning that he wants his supporters to vote for Republican Matt Doheny.

Owens won in a 2009 special election mainly due to Doug Hoffman’s Conservative Party campaign resulting in a split vote on the right with the Republican nominee.

There was hope among Democrats that this same dynamic would play out again this November. When Hoffman lost the Republican primary to Matt Doheny, he claimed he would continue to campaign on the Conservative Party line, but it looks like Hoffman had a change of heart.

A top Democratic Party official, speaking on background, said Democrats’ ability to hold onto the House and Senate will rely on Republicans being saddled with some seriously flawed primary winners (think: DE Sen nominee Christine O’Donnell) and getting lucky with several rightwing third party or independent candidates splitting the right-leaning vote. NY-23 was supposed to be an example of where Democrats got “lucky,” thanks to Hoffman, in what should be a top GOP target.

With Hoffman out of the race, but still on the ballot, it will become harder for Democrats to hold onto this seat, and so slightly harder to keep their majority in the House.