PLATTSBURGH — Democratic Party leaders in the 21st Congressional District are hoping to have a candidate by the middle of next month, and another Republican has shown interest.
In a statement issued Thursday, Democrats said they will give those interested until Feb. 4 to come forward to express their desire to run.
The seat in the 21st District will become open at the end of this year when incumbent Democrat Bill Owens finishes his term. He announced earlier this month that he will not seek re-election.
Owens, 64, was first elected in a special election in 2009 to fill the final year of former Congressman John McHugh’s term. McHugh, a Republican from Pierrepont Manor near Watertown, left Congress to become the secretary of the Army.
“We’re using a process similar to the one we used in 2009,” Sheila Comar, Washington County Democratic Party chairwoman, said in a statement.
“That resulted in the selection of Congressman Bill Owens. We are equally hopeful this time.”
Comar is acting as the spokesperson for the chairs of the Democratic Party in the 12 counties that comprise the district. The district stretches from Lake Ontario in the west to Lake Champlain in the east across the northern portion of the state, bordering Canada.
She said the party hopes to nail down a candidate by mid February.
GOP DECISION SOON
Republicans have been meeting since early this year and are expected to name a candidate at their Feb. 5 meeting in Elizabethtown, according to Essex County Republican Party Chairman and State North Country Regional Party Vice President Ronald Jackson.
Elise Stefanik of Willsboro is considered the front-runner for the Republican endorsement.
Stefanik, 29, is a former White House policy adviser to then President George W. Bush.
So far, she has raised more than $250,000 for her bid to run for Congress.
Others interested in the Republican nod are Joseph Gilbert, a retired U.S. Army major from St. Lawrence County, and Mike Ring, a broadcast engineer from Jefferson County.
Candidates can start getting signatures on petitions to get on the ballot on March 4.
If necessary, a primary will be held June 24.
The latest candidate to join the Republican contest is Jamie Waller of Lake Pleasant in Hamilton County.
Waller, 28, is a former U.S. Marine. He said he will run a modest campaign.
“I was told back in December of 2013 that I’d need about $2 million to take down Bill Owens. Resorting to the notion that I’d rather swallow cyanide than gamble $2 million of some other people’s money and remembering that the job of an elected official is to serve the people, not the special interests, I relegated myself to the notion I’d just start campaigning on March 4, 2014, the day I can start getting signatures,” Waller wrote in a news release.
“I will probably have to drop about five bucks for those G2 black ink pens that write so smoothly and probably 20 bucks for the paper I will use for the petitions to be printed. It’ll be tough to raise the dough, but I am certain I will hit my $25 mark.”
Waller said his platform is a “soft, subtle one that simply wants to instill confidence in those in my area.”
“They won’t need me; the government that is,” Waller wrote.
“Ronald Reagan said something like ‘never trust the guy who comes and knocks on your door and says, ‘hi, I’m with the government and I am here to help.’ That said, don’t trust a word I say or do. Keep me honest. Keep me accountable. Trust but verify.”
Email Joe LoTemplio:email@example.com