The main newspaper in New York's 23rd district on Thursday backed Republican nominee Dede Scozzafava in a highly-contested special election that has attracted much national attention.

The Watertown Daily Times cited Scozzafava as the most able candidate to represent the district, based on her knowledge of local issues and her moderate record. 


The paper also called the attention heaped on the race "exhilarating, frustrating and slightly irrelevant."

Scozzafava is engaged in a three-way race against Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman and Democrat Bill Owens. The candidates are running to replace former Rep. John McHugh (R-N.Y.), who resigned to become Army Secretary. Many national Republicans have bucked their own party and flocked to endorse Hoffman.

Voters will go to the polls this Tuesday. Friendly polls have showed Hoffman leading the race.

Some Republicans, including 2012 presidential hopefuls Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-Minn.) and ex-Gov. Sarah Palin (R-Alaska), backed Hoffman for his more conservative positions, saying that Scozzafava's support for gay marriage, abortion rights, and union card check legislation were unacceptable for a Republican candidate. 

But the paper said that Scozzafava's brand of politics best fits her district. 

"For more than a century, this part of New York state has been represented by a member of Congress who attended to the practical concerns and real needs of the region and its people," it said. "Neither ideologues nor hard-line partisans, they understood their district, how Washington works and how that knowledge could be used to benefit Northern New Yorkers."

The paper also slammed Hoffman for living outside the district and having inferior command of local issues.

"When asked a series of questions about the district last week, Mr. Hoffman drew blanks in several areas. We cannot wait for Mr. Hoffman, who has been co-opted by the right-wing national politicians, to do his homework," it said. 

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), who backed Scozzafava, mirrored the concerns of the Times in his endorsement of the state Assemblywoman last week.

Another paper, the Syracuse Post-Standard, backed Owens. The paper is published outside the district but is widely read in upstate New York. 

The Post-Standard commended Owens for his agenda that hews closer to President Barack Obama's policy agenda.

"We give Owens the edge in this race because he offers a clear and welcome contrast to both Scozzafava and Hoffman on major issues," it said.

The paper criticized Scozzafava for opposing cap-and-trade climate legislation and the healthcare reform bill. 

It also slammed Hoffman for declining to be interviewed and his lack of knowledge on local issues.

"Getting elected to Congress should never trump the obligation to be an engaged, knowledgeable district representative," it said.