Days after the Republican candidate dropped out of the race, Democrat Bill Owens won the special election for the 23rd Congressional District in upstate New York—a seat that had been held by Republicans since the 19th century. The NY Times called it "a setback for national conservatives who heavily promoted a third candidate in what became an intense debate over the direction of the Republican Party."
Owens (pictured) defeated Conservative candidate Doug Hoffman (who doesn't live in the district) with 49% of the vote, to Hoffman's 46%, with 93% of precincts reporting. Hoffman conceded saying, "I hope what I have shown you and the rest of the world is that you don't have to be polished, you don't have to be poised and you don't have to be a rock star to be a politician. All of us can step up to the plate and do it, so let's do it." Owens told his supporters, "You are the ones who proved the elections aren't decided by pundits or polls. You rejected the false attacks and the partisan divisions and decided that when it comes to confronting the challenges we face, we're all in this together."
Hoffman jumped into the race as an alternative to Republican candidate Dede Scozzafava, a moderate who supports same-sex marriage and a women's right to choose. With support from former VP candidate Sarah Palin, Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty, and former governor George Pataki, Owens' campaign gained steam while Scozzfava faced little support from the National Republican Congressional Committee and attacks from Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck. Politico said Owens' win "beat back a conservative bid to turn the race into a repudiation of both the Republican establishment and President Barack Obama." It was a small bright spot for the White House, which saw the GOP take the governor's house in both NJ and Virginia last night.