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Scozzafava plays to home base with fundraiser in Potsdam

TIMES STAFF WRITER
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POTSDAM — She's been outspent 12-to-1 by her opponents in the 23rd Congressional District race, but Dierdre K. Scozzafava says she is confident that grass-roots campaigning will pay off in the end.


Addressing supporters Friday afternoon during a St. Lawrence County Republican Committee fundraiser at Tardelli's Restaurant, the Gouverneur resident said the race to fill former Rep. John M. McHugh's seat is not about which candidate has the most money.


Ms. Scozzafava is running against Democrat William L. Owens and Conservative Douglas L. Hoffman.


"One of my opponents makes $750,000 a year. The other makes $450,000 a year. It's been a difficult campaign, but the difficulty we've had financially is made up by the support I've received," she said.


Ms. Scozzafava acknowledged that combating a barrage of negative ads — painting her as too liberal to uphold GOP values and too in line with former Bush administration policies for Democrats' liking — is a challenge. Ms. Scozzafava said she's had to work hard to win over constituents throughout the sprawling 11-county district.


"In some areas people don't know me and may be defining me by what they see on television," she said.


The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has launched ads saying Ms. Scozzafava voted more than 190 times in the Assembly to raise or extend taxes, an assertion she said is misleading voters.


"That's ... home rule measures. They were sales tax extensions requested by counties. There's a lot of misinformation out there. People aren't sure what's fact and what's fiction," she said. "When you see that someone like Newt Gingrich can come out and say I'm his candidate, that's a testament to my record."


Mr. Gingrich, the conservative Republican lawmaker behind the 1994 "Republican revolution" in the U.S. House of Representatives, on Friday morning endorsed Ms. Scozzafava for the Nov. 3 election.


Nancy K. Martin, county Republican Committee chairwoman, declined to say how much money was raised for Ms. Scozzafava's campaign at Friday's event, at which state Senate Minority Leader Dean G. Skelos was a guest.


"I think we're all excited to get her to Washington," Mrs. Martin said. "Until now, St. Lawrence County hasn't played a major role in her campaign because she is well known and well liked here. We plan on running a grass-roots campaign to get people to come out and vote on election day."

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