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GOP ex-candidate endorses Democrat in NY race

The Associated Press

A day after Republican state Assemblywoman Dierdre Scozzafava abruptly suspended her campaign for a New York congressional seat, she announced Sunday she's endorsing the Democrat in the race — not the Conservative Party candidate favored by fellow Republicans.

Scozzafava said Democrat Bill Owens would be better at building on the legacy of Republican John McHugh, who previously represented the 23rd Congressional District. McHugh vacated the seat after accepting a position in the Obama administration as secretary of the Army. The special election to replace him is scheduled for Tuesday.

"John and I worked together on the expansion of Fort Drum and I know how important that base is to the economy of this region," said Scozzafava's statement. "I am confident that Bill will be able to provide the leadership and continuity of support to Drum Country just as John did during his tenure in Congress."

Scozzafava added, "It's not in the cards for me to be your representative."

A recent Siena College poll showed Scozzafava finishing a distant third behind Owens and conservative Doug Hoffman. Big-name Republicans including Sarah Palin and former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson threw their support behind Hoffman.

The race pitted conservative and moderate wings of the Republican Party. Hoffman painted Scozzafava as too liberal, specifically noting her support of abortion rights and same-sex marriage. He told voters in the historically GOP district that she's not the kind of Republican they want representing their interests in a Democrat-led Congress.

Owens released a statement saying he's honored to receive the endorsement.

"Over the course of her career, Dede has always committed to serving the people of Upstate New York before serving a partisan agenda. I have a tremendous amount of respect for what she's accomplished," Owens said.