Hoffman’s candidacy generated much talk of a civil war in the GOP. Ironically, it is Owens who is about to learn firsthand what it’s like to belong to a majority that brooks no dissent. When Blue Dogs voiced their concerns over the speed at which Pelosi was attempting to ram the health-care overhaul through the House, their fellow Democrats responded with contemptuous sneers. Rep. Maxine Waters, the liberal lawmaker from California, criticized Rahm Emanuel’s strategy of recruiting conservative Democrats to run in right-leaning districts, saying that Emanuel’s “chickens have come home to roost.” Former DNC chief Howard Dean warned of primary challenges for Blue Dogs if they didn’t support the public option.

These are the factors conspiring to make the next twelve months difficult for Bill Owens. When he comes up for re-election next year, he will have a record. Is Hoffman up for the challenge of another tough campaign? Bob Miller relates a telling anecdote. “When Doug got in the race, I told him, ‘They’re going to come after you.’ And he said, ‘Bob, anything that happens to me is nothing compared to what our Founding Fathers risked to stand up for their principles.’ That’s the kind of person he is.” The slogan printed on the backdrop at Hoffman HQ last night read, “Fight back.” In the next few months, conservatives will be urging Hoffman to fight on.