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Roll Call: NY21 is a tossup

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Republican Matt Doheny, a "significantly flawed candidate," has a good shot at beating Rep. Bill Owens, D-Plattsburgh, on Nov. 6, Roll Call's Josh Miller writes in an analysis today.

"This is going to be a tough seat for Democrats to keep," he writes.

Working in Mr. Doheny's favor, according to the analysis, is an expected money advantage in the race, plus a lackluster economy and ObamaCare, which remains unpopular and that Mr. Owens voted to approve.

But the image game works better in favor of Mr. Owens, the analysis concludes — a Main Street Owens vs. a Wall Street Doheny.

The photographs taken of Mr. Doheny kissing a woman who is not his fiancee in a Washington, D.C. bar — snapshots that the campaign says was taken out of context — won't help.

"But if there is enough money supporting Doheny, it will probably make up for what one Republican called his “frat boy” image," the analysis concludes.

Actually, Mr. Owens has a money advantage right now — $700K+ to $400K+ for Mr. Doheny — but Mr. Doheny has yet to dip into his own pockets. He lent his campaign about $2.3 million in 2010, and has signaled a willingness to do so again this year.

Several political watchers have asked me how serious the Gawker photo situation was for Mr. Doheny. I find a lot of political punditry to be self-reinforcing, so I'm going to resist broad, sweeping conclusions, but I'll point out two things here: Roll Call mentions it pretty prominently in their analysis, and Google results bring back several mentions.

It's not as bad a Google problem as Rick Santorum's was. Mr. Doheny's website is still the first to come up. But the No. 2 result is about the photographs, as are several subsequent results.

In a race in which the candidates will be introducing themselves to more than 200,000 new voters, having bad stuff prominently on Google search results can't be good for the campaign.

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