PLATTSBURGH — State Sen. Betty Little will seek re-election this year, foregoing an opportunity to run for Congress.
“Having taken some time to think about it, I’ve decided not to seek the Republican nomination for the open congressional seat and will run for re-election to the New York State Senate, as I had planned,” Little said in a statement issued Monday.
“The past few years have been very productive, and I’m hopeful for another strong legislative session this year. Representing the residents of the 45th Senate District continues to be a tremendous honor.”
Little, 73, was first elected to the Senate in 2002, replacing luminary Ronald B. Stafford, who had served for 37 years.
She was re-elected in 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010 and again in 2012. In the last three elections, Little, a Republican from Queensbury, ran unopposed.
Clinton County Democratic Party Chairman Martin Mannix said he hopes Democrats can come up with a candidate to challenge Little this year.
“It’s a little early to tell who we might have, but we will get together and talk about it,” he said.
The 45th District includes Clinton, Essex, Franklin and Warren counties and parts of Washington and St. Lawrence counties.
Little had served in the State Assembly from 1995 until her first Senate bid.
‘SHE HAS EARNED IT’
Ronald Jackson, who is Essex County Republican Party chair and North Country regional vice president for the State Republican Party, said Little was approached by the party to see if she wanted to run for Congress.
“She deserved to be approached because she has earned it,” he said.
“But she decided not to run for Congress and wants to return to the Senate, and we are very happy about that because she has served the North Country very well.”
Jackson and the Republican chairs from the other 11 counties in the 21st Congressional District are still in the process of selecting a candidate to run for the now wide-open seat.
Incumbent Democrat Bill Owens of Plattsburgh announced last week that he would not run for re-election.
Elise Stefanik of Willsboro has emerged as the front-runner for the Republican Party endorsement.
Her campaign reported that she raised more than $250,000 by the end of 2013, more than any other potential candidate.
She also received endorsements from 2012 vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan and Douglas Hoffman, the Saranac Lake businessman who ran for the congressional seat on the Conservative Party line and lost a close race to Owens in 2009.
“I am very proud of what we accomplished in 2013,” Stefanik said in a statement.
“We’ve built a strong campaign early when it was the most difficult to do and have received an outpouring of vocal and financial support from every county in the district.
“During the past few days, I’ve received more phone calls from community and business leaders offering their support, and our first-quarter fundraising in 2014 is on track to be our best quarter yet.
“I know the momentum will continue for us because Republicans, Conservatives and Independents across the 21st know it’s time for new ideas and new leadership in Congress.”
Jackson said the Republican Party will make the selection at its Feb. 5 meeting.
Mannix said Democrats will be meeting to discuss potential candidates for the congressional seat, as well as the State Senate post.
Email Joe LoTemplio:email@example.com