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Scozzafava, at Owens event, urges focus on local issues

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CANTON — Republican Dierdre K. Scozzafava crossed paths with Democrat William L. Owens on the campaign trail Sunday during a stop in Canton, and urged her former rival to avoid the "hateful and divisive" tactics that helped drive her out of the race for Congress.

The state assemblywoman from Gouverneur surprised her supporters over the weekend by first dropping out of the race for the 23rd district seat, then announcing she was supporting Mr. Owens against Conservative Douglas L. Hoffman.

The three will appear on the ballot Tuesday in a special election battle for Rep. John M. McHugh's former seat. Mr. McHugh was named secretary of the Army by President Barack Obama.

On Sunday, at an Owens campaign event at the Veterans of Foreign Wars hall on Gouverneur Street, Mr. Owens and Ms. Scozzafava talked politics during their meeting. She warned him to avoid the "hateful and divisive" tactics she said were used by her Conservative opponent.

"It's not about ideology," Ms. Scozzafava said. "It's about the local issues."

Mr. Owens listened.

"I am concerned," he said. "We've got extraordinary issues. Fort Drum. Farm issues. Health care. I think Mr. Hoffman has been co-opted by the far right."

Ms. Scozzafava said Mr. Owens asked her to stop by the VFW event so he could publicly thank her for supporting his candidacy.

St. Lawrence County Democratic Committee Chairman Mark J. Bellardini predicted Mr. Owens will gain votes with his focus on local issues.

"It should be about this district," he said. "I think that the rank and file will support him."

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