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Scozzafava lining up campaign ducks


Howard Decker helped Republican James N. Tedisco raise $1.7 million in two months. Dierdre K. Scozzafava hopes Mr. Decker can make cash materialize just as fast during her potential congressional bid.

Ms. Scozzafava, a Republican state assemblywoman from Gouverneur, has told supporters she will be aggressively seeking her party's nomination for the 23rd Congressional District seat if there is a special election. John M. McHugh, the current post holder, will resign if he's confirmed as Army secretary this summer.

The district's 11 Republican committee chairmen haven't picked a candidate yet. But they know the race will take millions of dollars to win, so Mr. Decker's role as fundraising chairman could make Ms. Scozzafava an even more attractive candidate.

The assemblywoman said she was "in the process of hiring" Mr. Decker, but said they had not yet agreed on terms. The fundraiser lives outside the district, but has "good connections" with the National Republican Congressional Committee, Ms. Scozzafava said.

Ms. Scozzafava has not yet opened a campaign bank account.

"Money is important, but the candidate is just as important," she said. "And the message is the most important."

Ms. Scozzafava is part of a crowded field of Republican hopefuls that includes Assemblyman William A. Barclay, Pulaski; Oswego obstetrician/gynecologist Ronald V. Uva; Franklin County Legislator Paul A. Maroun, Tupper Lake; Lake Placid accountant Douglas L. Hoffman; Alexandria Bay businessman Matthew A. Doheny and Essex County veterinarian Gary S. Cooke.

An eighth potential candidate was revealed Tuesday. Joshua A. Lynch, a Waddington native and 2005 graduate of St. Lawrence University, is interested in the seat, according to James T. Ellis, state Republican Party's regional vice chairman for nine of the 11 counties in the 23rd District.

Mr. Lynch has served for the past three years as legislative assistant to U.S. Sen. Samuel D. Brownback, R-Kansas.

Ms. Scozzafava was a contender for the Republican nomination when the 48th Senate District seat opened in December 2007, but her party ultimately picked Mr. Barclay for the special election. The Pulaski assemblyman has said he also intends to seek the Republican nomination for the congressional seat.

Ms. Scozzafava briefly considered lobbying for the Democratic nomination at the time, but said Tuesday she has "no intention of switching parties" to be on the ballot for this race.

"What occurred — it was partially grounded in the selection process, but it had a lot to do with other things," she said, declining to elaborate. "We worked through it. I did things to help Will. There was more behind the story than not just being the candidate."

Ms. Scozzafava added: "I can win as a Republican in this congressional district."

The assemblywoman said she received 193 fewer votes than Mr. McHugh received in her district during the 2008 elections. Ms. Scozzafava was unopposed; the congressman was challenged by Democrat Michael P. Oot.

"I'm the only candidate that has a proven record with the electorate," the assemblywoman said.

Ms. Scozzafava said she's "confident that I have a pretty good grassroots ground game," adding that she has up to 150 campaign volunteers "who are just waiting for something to do."

There is a process to undergo first. The district's county chairmen have organized four regional meetings for candidates to introduce themselves and outline their platform. The meetings are for Republican committee members and are not open to the public or the media.

The meetings will be:

n 6 p.m. Tuesday at Zeiser's Hotel & Restaurant, Routes 8 & 30, Speculator.

n 6:30 p.m. at Schneibles Inn, 6226 Lakeshore Road, Verona Beach.

n 6 p.m. at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6338, 100 W. Main St., Gouverneur.

n 6 p.m. at Plattsburgh Town Hall, 151 Banker Road, Plattsburgh.

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