The candidate some Republicans say helped elect Rep. Bill Owens (D-N.Y.) in last year's special election for Congress in upstate New York has officially bowed out of the race in 2010.

Doug Hoffman was forging ahead with a third-party bid for the seat after losing out to Matt Doheny in September's Republican primary, but on Tuesday Hoffman decided to end his bid and endorse the GOP nominee.

From the Watertown Daily Times

Fearing he could "potentially leave Congress in the hands of Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic party," the one-time tea party icon urged his supporters to cast their vote for the candidate who edged him in the Republican primary, Matthew A. Doheny.

The Saranac Lake accountant acknowledged that he and the Watertown portfolio manager "may have differed on some issues during the course of the race" — most notably, Mr. Doheny's support for abortion during the first trimester.

But in a note to supporters, the Conservative candidate said: "If we truly believe in advancing this movement and reclaiming Congress and our nation, we must all make sacrifices and set aside our egos and our personal dreams."

Hoffman's exit is a relief for the GOP and could spell trouble for Owens if Hoffman's backers coalesce behind Doheny. Even with Hoffman out of the race, his name will still appear on the Nov. 2 ballot.

Hoffman ran on the Conservative Party line in 2009 and narrowly lost to Owens after Republican nominee Dede Scozzafava dropped out of the race just days before the election. 

Scozzafava, who had the backing of the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), threw her support behind the Democrat after exiting the race. Some national Republicans, including former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, had endorsed Hoffman. 

Scozzafava still won more than 5 percent of the vote on Election Day.