Democrats look for 21st Congressional District candidate as Owens retires
21ST CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT Democrats are calling for party members to consider running to represent the sprawling congressional district covering New York’s north country.
Résumés are being accepted up until Tuesday from Democrats interested in campaigning to represent a 12-county district that includes parts of Saratoga and Herkimer counties and all of Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Fulton, Hamilton, Jefferson, Lewis, St. Lawrence, Warren and Washington counties.
Incumbent U.S. Rep. Bill Owens, D-Plattsburgh, announced in mid-January he wouldn’t run for re-election, putting the Democratic Party a bit behind Republicans already canvassing the district.
Owens in 2009 won a special election after then-Rep. John McHugh was named secretary of the Army, then beat Matthew Doheny in the 2010 and 2012 general elections.
Owens, an Air Force veteran who worked as an attorney practicing business and tax law, announced his decision to retire in mid-January. He said he wanted to spend more time with his family.
So far, former White House aide Elise Stefanik of Willsboro, a Republican, has begun picking up support in the district since starting to campaign last summer.
Other Republicans filing paperwork to run for the seat include Army Maj. Joseph Gilbert and broadcast engineer Michael Ring.
With a dozen counties in the district, Democrat Sheila Comar, chairwoman of the Washington County Democratic Committee, said the first step will be considering candidates at the county level.
Those interested are being asked to get résumés to their county Democratic chairpersons by Feb. 4, she said.
She said there’s no question there will be a Democratic candidate for the seat, and interest has already been expressed. She declined to name any possible candidates.
“We have a few résumés in,” Comar said.
The chairs will all meet and likely interview some of the top candidates. Comar said the work has to be done by March 4 when candidates begin circulating nominating petitions in advance of the primary election.
Democrats hope to maintain the seat while working toward the goal of a majority in the House of Representatives. They need to gain 16 seats in the House to do so.