JAY — Two possible contenders for the 21st Congressional seat held by Bill Owens both announced they won’t run, leaving Democrats to continue searching for a candidate.
Owens (D-Plattsburgh) is leaving at the end of his term in December; he made the announcement last month.
Since then, numerous individuals have said they were considering a run for the post in the November election.
The district encompasses 12 counties across northern New York, from Lake Ontario in the west to Lake Champlain in the east.
On Tuesday, both Essex County Board of Supervisors Chair Randy Douglas (D-Jay) and Scott Murphy of Glens Falls, a former congressman, said they decided not to run for Owen’s seat. Both men are Democrats.
Douglas said he gave possible candidacy careful thought and consideration.
“The idea of it intrigued me; I felt that I could offer a lot of common sense, and I looked forward to bringing Democrats, Republicans and independents together for the greater good of our country,” he said in a statement.
“It was a tough decision for me. However, at this time I do not feel that running for this position is in the best interest of my family. I would also like to thank everyone who reached out to me and encouraged me to run.”
Douglas was recently installed as chairman of the Essex County Board of Supervisors for an unprecedented fifth term.
‘NOT RIGHT TIME’
Murphy said he and his wife, Jennifer, made the decision together.
“After serious consideration, Jen and I decided that now is not the right time for me to run. I think that the best thing I can do to serve the country is to spur economic growth and innovation through my work in the private sector.”
Murphy won a 2009 special election in a nowdefunct district that included parts of the current 21st District but lost a 2010 election against Republican Chris Gibson, a retired Army colonel from Kinderhook.
Sheila Comar, chairwoman of the Washington County Democratic Party, said the party will make a decision on a candidate by the middle of this month.
“There has been some interest from some very qualified people, and that’s good,” she said.
State Sen. Betty Little (R-Queensbury) previously said she was considering a run for Owens’s seat, then announced she would seek re-election to the State Senate for another term instead.
At least four Republicans have said they are interested in seeking the congressional spot. Party leaders have been meeting with candidates the past month and will make their choice Friday at a meeting in Elizabethtown. The selection had been scheduled for Wednesday but was canceled due to the snowstorm.
Elise Stefanik of Willsboro, who was a policy adviser in the administration of former President George W. Bush, appears to be the leading candidate.
Stefanik, 29, has reportedly raised more than $250,000 in campaign funds to launch a bid for the seat.
She also has endorsements from several highprofile Republicans, including former vice presidential candidate Congressman Paul Ryan.
“It has been an honor traveling to each county in the district over the past month, and I have been encouraged by the positive feedback and support I’ve received,” Stefanik said in statement.
“I’ve spoken directly with hundreds of committee members regarding their concerns about the issues facing our country. Their message is clear — it’s time for new ideas and new leadership in Washington.”
Broadcast engineer Michael Ring of Adams Center near Watertown and former St. Lawrence County Emergency Services Director Joe Gilbert are also vying for the party endorsement.
Jamie Waller of Lake Pleasant in Hamilton County has also expressed interest in running. Waller, 28, is a former U.S. Marine.
Email Joe LoTemplio: email@example.com