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Aubertine says he won’t run in 21st Congressional District

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CANTON - Prominent Democrat Darrel J. Aubertine on Wednesday cited the time and travel away from home and his current work in the state comptroller’s office as the reasons he will not run for the 21st Congressional District seat of Rep. William L. Owens.

“I can do more good for the community in my current role,” he said.

Mr. Aubertine previously served as a state senator, and as Department of Agriculture and Markets commissioner. In the comptroller’s office, he serves as special assistant for external affairs.

He said Wednesday that he made his decision in a deliberate way, allowing himself time to think it through, and called the interest in him “flattering.”

The decision essentially leaves Elizabethtown and Brooklyn filmmaker Aaron Woolf as the party’s lone representative in the election. The party’s 12-county committee leaders endorsed Mr. Woolf earlier this month. Since the endorsement, however, the candidate has kept a low profile and declined multiple media requests.

Mr. Aubertine said he wouldn’t read too much into the limited publicity.

“Clearly he’s putting together a platform, being deliberate, which he should,” he said.

Mr. Aubertine said he had exchanged emails and calls with Mr. Woolf, but had not sat down with him to discuss his platform. During their discussions, Mr. Woolf told Mr. Aubertine that they had met years ago at a rural farming event.

Mr. Aubertine said he was not sure how active a role he will play in campaigning for Mr. Woolf, adding he will decide that when they meet.

To be successful in the district, Mr. Aubertine said, Mr. Woolf will have to connect with residents on locally important issues, such as business development, cross-border trade and the status of Fort Drum in the face of defense budget cuts.

“If he can relate to voters in a Main Street way, he’ll do very well,” he said.

He said he hoped whoever fills the position can have a presence like Mr. Owens, or other past representatives like John M. McHugh or Robert C. McEwen.

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