I just got off the phone with Mike Long, the Conservative Party chairman, who was at his Brooklyn office.
Mr. Long's say-so (which takes into account the say-so of local Conservative Party chairs) could mean the difference between a victory and defeat in Matt Doheny's race for the 23rd Congressional District against sitting Rep. Bill Owens, D-Plattsburgh.
As you may recall, Mr. Long declined to endorse Mr. Doheny, a Republican, in 2010 for the Conservative Party line. Not only did he decline to endorse him. He said: "he told Mr. Doheny 'up front that there was no opportunity' for an endorsement. The chairman reiterated that position... in a memo to the party's county chairs and state committee members."
(That's from a May 13, 2010 Times story written by then-Times staff writer Jude Seymour. Who's now Mr. Doheny's spokesman. Small world.)
That left Doug Hoffman on the ballot and probably cost Mr. Doheny the election.
SO! I know I'm burying the lead a bit, but here's what Mr. Long said about Mr. Doheny this time around when I talked to him this morning:
"My understanding is, he's working very hard working with Conservative leaders. It's not impossible, and it remains to be seen what the leaders want to do and who the candidates are. Like I said, it's rather early."
Mr. Long also said redistricting would be a factor. We'll know more after November, he said.
No, it's not an endorsement. And since it is quite early in the game, I didn't press Mr. Long too hard. But the fact that the possibility of an endorsement is open, unlike last time, is good news for the Doheny camp.
Many Conservative Party leaders were upset with Mr. Doheny stemming from the 2009 race. Mr. Doheny, a loyal Republican, not only didn't run against her on the Conservative line, as was offered to him, he also contributed to her campaign. Ms. Scozzafava dropped out of the race and endorsed Mr. Owens over Mr. Hoffman; Mr. Owens, of course, went on to win.