For those of you who have been reading Legal Insurrection since the early days, the name Bill Owens may be familiar.

Owens won the 2009 special election in what then was the NY-23 District (since reconfigured and now NY-21) against the insurgent conservative candidate Doug Hoffman.  In a precursor to the Tea Party uprising, Hoffman ran as a third party candidate and was surging ahead of liberal Republican Dede Scozzafava in a traditionally Republican District.

Robert Stacy McCain did extensive on-the-ground reporting on the race, and has a special emnity for mainstream Republican endorsements of Scozaffava from Newt Gingrich and others:

Twitter RS McCain Hoffman

The Hoffman surge also was a chance for Democrats to test the Tea Party Demonization strategy that continues to this day.

Rather than allow the conservative to win, Scozzafava dropped out of the race and backed Democrat Owens.  The influential Watertown Times also switched its endorsement based on Owens’ promise to keep bringing home federal port to the district, something Hoffman opposed as a fiscal conservative.

Here are some posts from way back:

Owens barely held off challenges in 2010 and 2012, is what still is a Republican district. In 2010 there was a three-way race in which Hoffman again participated, and in 2012 Owens defeated Matt Doheny, who was part of our Operation Counterweight.

Now he’s retiring in a cycle when he would not benefit from a three-way race, and his pro-Obamacare positions would be a hard sell.

Politico reports:

Democratic Rep. Bill Owens of New York will not run for reelection in November, he announced Tuesday — dealing another blow to the party’s prospects of winning control of the House.

In the past two months, three Democrats — Owens, Utah Rep. Jim Matheson, and North Carolina Rep. Mike McIntyre — have announced their retirements from seats that could swing to Republicans. The GOP is trying to protect a 17-seat advantage in the House

Owens’s swing district, which encompasses a swath of upstate New York, broke for President Barack Obama in the past two elections. But Republicans are bullish about their prospects for winning the 21st district in 2014, especially with Owens — who cut a moderate profile — no longer seeking reelection. Republican Elise Stefanik, a former George W. Bush aide, has launched a campaign for the seat.

Prior to the announcement the Republican field was getting crowded.

We’ll see how it sorts out, but NY-21 seems like a good candidate for Operation Counterweight 2014.

Update: NY21: Doug Hoffman Endorses Elise Stefanik (h/t @TennLion):

Divisions between the Republican party and conservative activists have helped hand a competitive upstate New York congressional seat to Democrat Bill Owens in recent years, but 2014 may be the year when all factions unite behind one candidate.

Republican Elise Stefanik has already won the endorsements of a handful GOP county committees in New York’s 21st congressional district, and in an interview with THE WEEKLY STANDARD Thursday afternoon, Doug Hoffman, the Conservative Party candidate who challenged Democrat Owens and liberal Republican Dede Scozzafava in a 2009 special election, announced his endorsement of Stefanik.


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