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Time to act

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The decision that U.S. Rep. William L. Owens, D-21st District, of Plattsburgh announced last month not to seek re-election has left a void of competent political leadership.

Mr. Owens first took office during a special election in late 2009 and was re-elected in both 2010 and 2012. He provided a sensible, centrist approach to governance that is desperately needed in our nation’s capital and in the north country.

The ideal situation would have been for Dierdre K. Scozzafava to switch parties and run for the 21st Congressional District as a Democrat. Having previously served as both a state lawmaker and a mayor, she was a moderate Republican and enjoyed widespread support.

But Ms. Scozzafava announced yesterday that she will not run for the U.S. House of Representatives. She now holds the position of deputy secretary of state for local government and will remain where she is.

Ms. Scozzafava was a GOP candidate for the 21st Congressional District in 2009 but dropped out of the race and threw her support behind Mr. Owens. During her campaign, she was viciously attacked by conservative extremists.

It is unfortunate that we will not have the opportunity to have Ms. Scozzafava represent us in Washington. The Democrats have yet to field a candidate with name recognition, and the news isn’t much better from the GOP.

Elise M. Stefanik of Willsboro, who announced her candidacy last year, recently garnered the endorsement of Republican county leaders throughout the 21st District. Also seeking the GOP nomination are Joseph M. Gilbert of DeKalb Junction and James K. Waller of Lake Pleasant.

None of these candidates offers the kind of leadership we believe is needed on Capitol Hill. Another individual, Matthew A. Doheny, is rumored to be mulling a run but has yet to announce his candidacy.

Mr. Doheny ran against Mr. Owens as a Republican in 2012. He represents the best option in a race with few standouts.

Mr. Doheny should declare his candidacy now and run a vigorous race to secure the GOP nomination in the September primary. He should then run the kind of campaign that ensures victory for him in the general election in November. He would have a real advantage in this race.

“A poll conducted by a consulting firm that in prior races worked for former 21st Congressional District Republican candidate Matthew A. Doheny says that Mr. Doheny has a significant lead over Elise M. Stefanik among Republican voters,” according to a Friday story in the Watertown Daily Times. “The Public Opinion Strategies memo, first reported on the website Politico, says that Mr. Doheny leads Ms. Stefanik 49 percent to 13 percent among likely Republican primary voters. The margin of error for that question, asked of 283 Republicans, is 5.8 percent.”

The case for Mr. Doheny as the best candidate is clear. We hope he acts on this news soon and makes it official.

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