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Dems schedule hopefuls meeting

TIMES STAFF WRITER
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The 11 Democratic county chairmen in the 23rd Congressional District are expected to select one of the 11 candidates interested in U.S. Rep. John M. McHugh's soon-to-be-vacant seat at an Aug. 10 meeting at the Minnowbrook Conference Center, Blue Mountain Lake.


"We have a number of candidates that represent the lifeblood of the north country," said Sean M. Hennessey, Jefferson County Democratic chairman. "There's no question we'll have a strong candidate by the end of the meeting."


Interviews will begin at 9 a.m., and once all of the candidates are heard, three or four candidates will be given a second interview, Mr. Hennessey said.


Named as candidates are:


n Andrew Bisselle — Director of Camp Dudley YMCA Inc., also attended a July 8 Republican meet-and-greet in Speculator, Hamilton County.


n Stuart Brody — Essex County attorney and former Democratic Rural Conference chairman.


n Steven W. Burke — Former St. Lawrence Democratic Committee chairman.


n Danny M. Francis — Watertown resident who was the party's nominee for the seat in 1994.


n Robert J. Johnson — Sackets Harbor thoracic surgeon who was the party's nominee in 2004 and 2006 .


n Rudolph Johnson — Malone resident who was a correctional facilities planner.


n Brian S. McGrath — Lowville native and New York City attorney.


n David Ryan — Customer service director at a Saranac Lake hotel.


n John T. Sullivan Jr. — Assistant inspector general in the state Medicaid Office.


n Michael P. Oot — Munnsville attorney who was the party's nominee for this seat last year.


n William L. Owens — Plattsburgh attorney.


The candidates have submitted applications and letters of interest to the party chairmen, Mr. Hennessey said.


While a majority of the candidates listed already have publicly expressed interest in the seat, one notable name was left off.


Daniel J. French, a LaFargeville native and former U.S. attorney, said he has withdrawn his candidacy.


"While I intend to return to public service in the future, this is not the right time for me or my family," he said.


Mr. French would not offer any more information concerning his withdrawal during a Wednesday afternoon interview.


"I've had a couple of different conversations with him about the process," Mr. Hennessey said of Mr. French. "He's a great guy and has a bright future. He has to do what is best for the future of his family. This job can take you away from home quite a bit."


Both Sen. Darrel J. Aubertine and Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell have said they will not run for the congressional seat.


"The fact that Assemblywoman Russell and Senator Aubertine chose not run shows that they are willing to put their district in front of their own national careers," Mr. Hennessey said. "It must have been a difficult decision for them to make."


Mr. McHugh was nominated June 2 to be Army secretary. His Senate confirmation hearing begins this morning. If he's confirmed, the Pierrepont Manor Republican is expected to vacate the seat.


Gov. David A. Paterson is waiting for the seat to become open before deciding whether to call a special election, which will then take place within 40 days of his proclamation.


Republicans have picked Assemblywoman Dierdre K. Scozzafava, Gouverneur, as their candidate after a two-week process involving nine candidates.

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