Rep. William L. Owens overcame once again the nominal Republican majority in the Northern New York congressional district to win his third term in Congress.
Democrat Owens on Tuesday defeated Republican Matthew A. Doheny to represent the newly drawn 21st Congressional District when Congress convenes in January. Mr. Owens carried the 12-county district by about 4,700 votes. Mr. Owens was first elected in a bitterly divisive three-way race in 2009 to complete the unexpired term of former Rep. John McHugh and then won a full two-year term when he and Mr. Doheny faced off in 2010.
Mr. Owens carried the tricounty region Tuesday due to a wide margin of victory in St. Lawrence County that overcame Mr. Dohenys small leads in Jefferson and Lewis counties. The same alignment was true on the national level, where President Obama also won St. Lawrence County but lost the other two counties.
Rep. Owens and Mr. Doheny both ran as middle-of-the-road candidates. For his part, Rep. Owens portrayed himself as a congressman who could work with Republicans as with his vote to eliminate one new tax in the national health insurance act while standing by the legislation in general. He prominently played up his anti-regulation stance in one campaign ad. Challenger Doheny also avoided aligning himself with the far-right Tea Party fringe of the Republican Party.
The past three congressional elections have demonstrated that party affiliation is having less influence in what is becoming a highly competitive district in which voters maintain their traditionally centrist attitudes by shunning the extreme wing of either party. The Democratic Party is rising; Republicans should take heed.