By LOIS CLERMONT
---- — PLATTSBURGH — A new poll shows challenger Matt Doheny has narrowed the race with incumbent Congressman Bill Owens to a razor-thin margin.
Owens, a Democrat from Plattsburgh; Doheny, a Republican from Alexandria Bay; and Donald Hassig, the Green Party candidate from Canton; are vying to represent the reconfigured 21st District.
The Siena College poll released Thursday shows Owens with 44 percent of the vote, Doheny with 43 percent and Hassig at 4 percent in the poll, with 8 percent undecided. The poll surveyed 629 voters and has a margin of error of 3.9 percent.
That is a major switch from a Siena poll released in September that showed Owens with 49 percent and Doheny with 36 percent.
The Owens campaign played down the significance of the change, while Doheny’s camp says it verifies an internal poll showing their candidate’s gains.
“We’ve said all along the only poll that matters is on Election Day, but Bill Owens is in a strong position to win,” spokesman Jon Boughtin said in a news release.
“Bill will visit all 12 counties in the next few days, while his campaign will reach out to tens of thousands of voters on the phone and at their doorsteps.
“Voters have responded to Bill Owens’s message of bipartisanship and helping to create jobs, and he looks forward to continuing this work in Washington.”
He noted that in the 2010 race for the congressional seat, a Siena poll released in late October showed Owens and Doheny tied when third-party challenger Doug Hoffman was taken out of the equation. Owens beat Doheny in a close race that year.
Owens, who was recently endorsed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, will start his four-day tour today with stops at McCombs Oak Hill Maple Farm in Speculator and then, at 2:30 p.m., he will tour Pre-Tech Precision Machining with Moriah Town Supervisor Tom Scozzafava.
Doheny said the new poll is significant.
“No matter which way you look at it, momentum is on our side,” he said in a statement. “These numbers line up with our earlier polls and the shift we’ve seen over the past month. I’m going to continue to hit the campaign trail hard, outwork the other side and sprint through the finish line.”
Spokeswoman Laura Chambers told the Press-Republican that because an internal Doheny poll also showed the race was extremely close, “it shows there’s something there.”
She noted that the gains were despite the fact that the Democratic Campaign Committee spent more than $500,000 over the past week trying to get Owens re-elected.
On Wednesday, Doheny started a “Ready to Roll” tour that will continue until Election Day. He plans to cover as much of the district’s 17,000 square miles as possible. He started off by making a stop Wednesday in all 19 towns in Franklin County, accompanied by Franklin County Sheriff Kevin Mulverhill.
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