L. Jeffrey Stabins is trying to prove that you can come home again.
The Watertown native who is an elected official in Florida told the St. Petersburg Times that he will seek the north country’s congressional seat.
“My dream as a boy growing up in Watertown was to one day be elected a Republican congressman serving in Washington, D.C.,” Mr. Stabins said, according to the report.
The Times could not reach Mr. Stabins for comment Wednesday; his father, Dr. David M. Stabins, Chestnut Street, said his son was on a flight from Florida to Syracuse and would be in Watertown that night.
Mr. Stabins, a 51-year-old Republican, would face Matthew A. Doheny in a primary for the 2012 race and, if he prevailed, U.S. Rep. William L. Owens, D-Plattsburgh, in the general election. That is, if the state’s process of redrawing its political boundaries does not split Watertown and Plattsburgh.
As a Hernando County commissioner, Mr. Stabins has stirred controversy of late: singing during board meetings, or walking around the room. He also tried to get a show on a public broadcasting channel and had to apologize when a note that he wrote explaining his absence from a board meeting led some to believe he had hurt himself, according to the St. Petersburg Times report.
James T. Ellis, the GOP chairman in Franklin County, said he hadn’t heard of Mr. Stabins or his nascent candidacy.
As of now, Mr. Doheny, who lost to Mr. Owens by a slim margin in 2010, is the only definite candidate in the race. A tea party-affiliated activist, Kelly S. Eustis, flirted with the idea, but bowed out and has since met with Mr. Doheny and called him a “strong Republican.”
Douglas L. Hoffman, a Saranac Lake accountant who was twice the Conservative Party’s candidate, seems unlikely to jump into the fray. Asked Tuesday of his intentions, Mr. Hoffman was coy, saying he needed to see what redistricting would mean for the 23rd (Mr. Owens’s district) and the 20th (represented by Rep. Christopher Gibson, R-Kinderhook).
Mr. Hoffman said that if he ends up in Mr. Gibson’s district, he’d probably stay out of the race. He said that Mr. Gibson, a tea party-backed Republican, “has much of the same views as I have,” but demurred when asked about Mr. Doheny, to whom he lost the Republican nomination in 2010.
“That’s too early to say,” Mr. Hoffman said. “Let’s wait and see what happens.”
In 2010, Mr. Owens, the incumbent Democrat, probably won the race because Mr. Doheny had the Republican line and Mr. Hoffman had the Conservative Party line, splitting the right. After losing the Republican nod, Mr. Hoffman tepidly endorsed Mr. Doheny, but his name remained on the ballot, giving him 10,507 votes from people who were protesting or confused.
Next year could be an even tougher slog for Mr. Hoffman.
The redistricting process could last months into 2012, making a candidacy after lines were settled difficult, particularly considering Mr. Hoffman’s hefty campaign debt.
Mr. Hoffman said he has the name recognition to overcome the compressed calendar, after a high-profile run in a 2009 special election.
Mr. Ellis, the Franklin County Republican chief, doesn’t see it that way.
“Doug’s a wonderful guy. I just don’t think it’s in the cards,” Mr. Ellis said. “I’d love to see him run for statewide office.”