Upstate NY Election Features Conservative Party vs Democrat Party

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -- The nation is focusing on a largely rural swath of upstate New York that has taken on unusual relevance for a special congressional election in an off year.

The race toward Tuesday's election started about five weeks ago with three candidates and is ending with two.

They are Democrat Bill Owens and surprise contender Doug Hoffman, a member of the state Conservative Party.

Republican Dierdre Scozzafava (skoh-zuh-FAH'-vuh) dropped out over the weekend and backed Owens after Hoffman supporters complained about her support of abortion rights and same-sex marriage.

Top Republicans including former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin and Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty have endorsed Owens instead of the party-picked Scozzafava.

The seat has been in GOP hands for decades.

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