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Sun., Oct. 4
Serving the communities of Jefferson, St. Lawrence and Lewis counties, New York
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Aubertine remains undecided about entering race for Congress


CANTON - Democrats and his fellow Republicans reacted swiftly to Matthew M. Doheny’s announcement Wednesday morning he will seek the Republican nomination in the 21st Congressional District.

Former Democratic state Sen. Darrel J. Aubertine said he is still considering a run but has not made up his mind. Mr. Aubertine, former commissioner of the state Department of Agriculture and Markets who now works for the state comptroller as special assistant for external affairs, said he was leaning one way, but would not elaborate.

“There’s a lot to consider. It’s not like I’m pontificating at my kitchen table on my decision,” he said. “I still have a job to do.”

Mr. Aubertine, who was on his way to Malone to talk to constituents Wednesday morning, criticized Mr. Doheny, saying that in his announcement Mr. Doheny called himself “a good Republican.” The former state senator said Mr. Doheny also would be responsible for representing Democrats, Independents and others in the 21st Congressional District.

The Republican does not understand what struggling families go through, Mr. Aubertine went on to say.

One of possibly four GOP candidates running for the party nomination, Joseph M. Gilbert, president of the Northern New York Tea Party, said neither his campaign nor his message of fiscal conservatism, Second Amendment rights and small government will change with Mr. Doheny getting into the race.

He said any candidate who runs for office “should stick to their good values and principles that they stand for.” He contended the primary will make the Republican candidate stronger for the general election.

“More candidates involved in the primary is not necessarily a bad thing,” Mr. Gilbert said.

Jefferson County Democratic Committee Chairman Ronald H. Cole said GOP voters will need a scorecard to keep track of the Republican primary because of the crowded Republican field.

“Let the Republicans sort out who they want as a candidate,” he said.

While he declined to speculate on Mr. Aubertine’s plans, Mr. Cole predicted that Democrats will not end up having a primary. The 12-county committee leaders endorsed Elizabethtown and Brooklyn filmmaker and organic-grocery purveyor Aaron Woolf to hold the party line in the election, although he is subject to a primary challenge.

Mr. Cole said Mr. Woolf was in Malone on Tuesday night to gain support and likely will visit Jefferson County soon.

So far, Mr. Woolf still has not responded to news media requests for interviews.

Another former candidate for the 21st district seat, Douglas Hoffman, was a supporter of Elise Stefanik early on and remains one.

“Where were all these brave men when the incumbent was running?” Mr. Hoffman wrote in an email. “It took a brave woman to drive the incumbent out of the race. Elise Stefanik is principled and has worked extremely hard to earn the Republican endorsement, not only from the county chairs but from hundreds of committee men and women throughout the district. Unlike 2009, the Republicans have endorsed a true Republican and we should all be getting behind her and supporting her. She knows Upstate and Northern New York and will be a great Congresswoman for the 21st District.”

Mr. Hoffman’s candidacy in 2009 was largely credited with giving Mr. Owens his first win, as he and Republican candidate Dierdre K. Scozzafava split the party vote. Mr. Hoffman ran in 2009 and in 2010 on the Conservative Party line. In 2012, he endorsed Mr. Doheny.

In the 12 districts, Jefferson was the only county that declined to endorse Ms. Stefanik at a meeting Feb. 7 in Elizabethtown.

Jefferson County Republican Chairman Donald G.M. Coon III said he knew that Mr. Doheny was considering for some time whether he would get into the race and “is very happy” with his decision. While some people believe the late entry may hurt him, Mr. Coon disagreed, saying Mr. Doheny “has run two successful primaries” for the office.

“He has experience in the district. He knows the district. He knows the people in the district,” Mr. Coon said. “It’s going to be a good race. It’ll be very interesting.”

On Jan. 14, Congressman William L. Owens, D-Plattsburgh, who was first elected in 2010, announced that he would not seek re-election, surprising both Democrats and Republicans.

While he would not predict the winner of the primary, Mr. Owens called Mr. Doheny a hard-working, intelligent campaigner, adding he enjoyed both campaigns against him.

“We’ll see how it plays out over the next couple of months,” Mr. Owens said.

And he would not count out the Democratic candidate in the general election. He recalled how he, Mr. Doheny and Mr. Hoffman were all relative unknowns when he ran for the seat four years ago, so Mr. Woolf will have enough time to get his name well known, the congressman said.

Voters will have the opportunity to learn about Mr. Woolf. Calling him “a moderate,” Mr. Owens said Mr. Woolf has been active in issues regarding the Adirondacks and was instrumental in getting several historic movie houses in the region fitted with digital equipment.

With months of campaigning ahead, Mr. Owens said he hopes the district ends up with “a moderate candidate” who is willing to work with representatives from the other side of the aisle. The 21st District needs a congressman who will not just promise to work with the other party but will also follow through, Mr. Owens said.

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