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Owens sounds ready to support health care bill - if he's allowed to vote

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Bill Owens, the newly elected representative of the 23rd Congressional District, suggested today that he's ready to support the House health care reform bill under consideration Saturday - provided he's legally allowed to do so.

"As I indicated before, I think this is a historic movement forward," the Plattsburgh Democrat said during a Thursday stop in Watertown. "I think that it does many of the things that I thought needed to be done. There are some things that I'd like to see changed in the bill."

Admittedly, the media (including myself) didn't press him on what he'd like to see changed. But there's also some questions about if he'll be legally allowed to take part in that vote.

Mr. Owens is ahead by 3,770 votes according to unofficial tallies. It's certain he will ultimately prevail, but the absentees haven't been counted and the election results haven't been certified.

The Democrat thought there wouldn't be a delay in getting into office "seeing as Mr. Hoffman conceded." But is that enough? I just don't know.

Mr. Owens said he's awaiting word about the swearing-in process, adding he didn't even know if he was even going to be in Washington on Friday.

The Democrat hasn't heard from former Rep. John McHugh, now Army secretary, but he has talked to the House staff left behind to tend his office files. Mr. Owens doesn't know if he's going to get any of Mr. McHugh's files, but said: "I'm anticipating we'll have his full cooperation.”

The congressman-elect said he hasn't filed any position besides his chief of staff - which went to Putnam County native Brad Katz - but his campaign spokesman, Jon Boughtin, accompanied him to Watertown today and appears to be helping him with press in the short term.

As for other tidbits, Mr. Owens said his conversation with Mr. Hoffman on Tuesday lasted only 40 seconds. He was non-commital when asked by WWNY-TV reporter Rachel Kent if he would pledge to debates in the 2010 campaign now, so that we didn't have a repeat of this election's lack of public discourse.

Meanwhile, here are the most up-to-date results. There are still nine voting districts in St. Lawrence, two in Lewis and one in Oneida that have yet to report.

Mr. Owens (D,WF): 66,526 votes (48.8 percent)
Mr. Hoffman (C): 62,756 (46 percent)
Dede Scozzafava (R,I): 6,996 (5.1 percent)

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