The Democratic in the energized NY-23 congressional race on Saturday praised now-departed Republican candidate Dede Scozzafava for her years of public service.

Bill Owens also urged voters next Tuesday to reject Doug Hoffman, the Conservative Party candidate that Republicans are now backing in the race to fill former-Rep. John McHugh's vacant House seat.

“Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava has been an honorable public servant for years now and I have a tremendous amount of respect for her and her commitment to her principles," Owens said. "While we disagree on certain issues, we share a dedication to serving the best interests of Upstate New York and the Obama administration’s efforts to get our economy back on track.  Those interests will always be my highest priority.”

Scozzafava's departure from the raise could prove detrimental to Owens' campaign: Recent polls show Owens leading Hoffman by about one point, which means the Conservative Party candidate is within the margin of error. If Scozzafava's voters shift to Hoffman, therefore, Owens only stands to lose on Election Day.

However, Scozzafava on Saturday did not openly endorse Hoffman's candidacy; instead, she stressed her supporters were free to choose whichever candidate they wished.

"Today, I again seek to act for the good of our community," Scozzafava wrote in a letter to supporters," she said. "It is increasingly clear that pressure is mounting on many of my supporters to shift their support. Consequently, I hereby release those individuals who have endorsed and supported my campaign to transfer their support as they see fit to do so."

That, however, has put Owens on the offensive. Continued the Democratic candidate in his statement:

“Voters have a clear choice on Tuesday: they can elect to go back to the George Bush economic agenda, or they can vote to move forward. Doug Hoffman and the Club for Growth’s extremist agenda won’t do a thing to get our economy moving again.  While Doug Hoffman is solely committed to continuing tax cuts for the wealthy which will add $500 billion to the deficit, protecting tax breaks for companies who ship jobs overseas, and privatizing Social Security, I will fight to turn the page on that agenda. I will work to create jobs Upstate to get our economy back on track because that is the type of leadership we need right now in Congress.”