North Country political leaders are searching for the best candidate to fill New York’s 21st Congressional District after Congressman Bill Owens announced he wasn’t seeking re-election.
“The most important thing I think I’ve achieved is that I have brought myself to the center and I think I’ve brought others to the center,” (D) Rep. Bill Owens said.
During his four years in office Congressman Owens says he's done his best to serve everyone in the 21st district. Now that he won't run again democrats are hoping to keep the seat while republicans want to regain a seat that’s traditionally been there’s.
“It should be somebody who will act moderately, will be towards the center,” Rep. Owens said.
Three republicans are running for Congress, Elise Stefanik, Joe Gilbert and Michael Ring. Republican state senator Betty Little announced Monday she won't run.
Party leaders say they hope to decide on one candidate by February 5th to avoid a primary.
None of Owens fellow democrats have announced they're running for his seat but party leaders say they plan on having a list of candidates by the end of the week.
“I'm certainly going be available to whoever the democratic candidate is,” Owens said.
But SUNY Plattsburgh political science director Harvey Schantz says Owens' endorsement will only go so far.
“It would carry support in the democratic party and within the democratic primary but not necessarily the general election,” Schantz said.
Schantz says not having an incumbent in the race will make it more likely voters support their party's candidate but it's too early to tell who will have the advantage for the November election.
“This is very much of a tossup district right now,” Schantz said.
“Historically republicans have held this area in the US House but Bill Owens broke the mold.
But to a degree he broke the mold while Barrack Obama was at a high point. If Barrack Obama's popularity is very low as we head into late 2014 that could hurt the democrats’ chance in this district.
Primaries for the congressional race are June 24th. The general election is November 4th.