Bill Owens Gets Dem Nod in NY-23; Will Face Scozzafava, Hoffman


For a while it didn’t look like any Democrat wanted to run in the New York 23rd Congressional District to replace Republican John McHugh, who is leaving to become (eventually, pending Republican interference) Obama’s Secretary of the Army. State senator and rising star Darrel Aubertine was the presumed favorite, but he bailed, as did assemblywoman Addie Russell, former U.S. Attorney Dan French, and former contender for the seat Michael Oot.

But they did manage three candidates for the final winnowing, and Plattsburgh lawyer and NBT Bancorp board member Bill Owens won out…

Like most upstate Democrats, Owens has a relatively conservative profile. In fact he’s not even a Democrat — he’s a registered independent. He’s a former Air Force captain and business commentator on local public TV. And he has enough money from his tax law practice that some observers suggest his ability to fund his own race might have been a factor in his choosing.

Owens will face assemblywoman Dierdre (Dede) Scozzafava, who because of her pro-gay and pro-choice record has been disdained as too liberal by both local and national conservatives (well, her web site does look awfully blue) — so much so that the Conservative Party has nominated a Lake Placid accountant and former National Guardsman, Doug Hoffman, for the seat.

Whom the three-way benefits is anyone’s guess. Scozzafava is popular enough to have persisted ten years in the assembly, but the perpetual-outrage wing of the party may hop to Hoffman. Or her social liberalism and trimming instincts may make her a palatable choice for voters uncomfortable with the Democrats but unwilling to back a rageaholic Republican.