[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/07/16/art.romney0716,gi.jpg caption="Romney is not making an endorsement in the NY 23 race.'"](CNN) - Is Mitt Romney weighing in on the intra-Republican Party fight in race for New York's 23 Congressional District by refusing to make an endorsement?
That's the special election where the GOP nominee, Dede Scozzafava, is facing a challenge not only from Bill Owens, the Democrat's candidate, but also from Doug Hoffman, who's running on the conservative party line. Because of the split among Republicans, Owens has a good chance of taking back a district the Democrats haven't won in generations.
On Wednesday Romney was asked whether he'd make an endorsement in the New York 23 contest.
"I have chosen not to endorse the Republican candidate in New York's 23rd District," Romney told reporters while campaigning in Virginia for Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell. "That should speak a certain amount of volume. I can't endorse our candidate in that race."
Many top conservatives have weighed in on the race in the past few weeks, endorsing Hoffman, who jumped into the contest as a third party candidate after failing to gain the nod of Republican leaders in the district.
Among those backing Hoffman are possible 2012 GOP presidential contenders Sarah Palin, Tim Pawlenty and Rick Santorum. Both Romney and Mike Huckabee have refused to make an endorsement, while Newt Gingrich is supporting Scozzafava.
"Mitt Romney is a Republican and he tends to support the Republican candidate in races and when he can't because there are too many differences on the issues, he stays out of the race altogether and that's the course he's following in the New York special election. He doesn't plan to make any endorsement at all," Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom tells CNN.
The election in the three-way race to fill a vacant congressional seat is 5 days away. The office opened up after nine-term Republican Rep. John McHugh stepped down after being confirmed as Secretary of the Army. The largely rural district spans 11 counties in northern New York.
Republicans have represented this area of the state since 1872. McHugh never won less than 60 percent of the vote in his nine election victories, but Barack Obama did edge out John McCain in the district in last year's presidential election.
Scozzafava won the nomination in a vote taken by the 11 GOP county chairman in the district, rather than through a traditional primary election. The local Republican leaders picked the state assemblywoman, who is also backed by the National Republican Congressional Committee and the Republican National Committee, because they felt her moderate views would appeal to centrist Republicans, independents, and even some Democrats.
The move sparked a revolt among many conservatives, who are angry with what they call her liberal views on same-sex marriage and abortion.
Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter @psteinhausercnn