North Country Congressman Bill Owens announced Tuesday he is not seeking reelection.
"After careful thought and consideration, I have decided not to seek reelection for the 21st Congressional District this November," Owens said in a statement.
Owens, a 64 year old Democrat, has represented the north country in Congress since 2009.
In a telephoned news conference, Owens said he began to considering not running six weeks ago.
After speaking at length with this family, he decided to not seek re-election.
The Congressman said there are no health issues, no scandals and no frustrations with Washington that have led to his decision.
Owens said he does not have a job waiting for him in the private sector, however he plans to continue to work to create employment in the north country.
President Obama issued the following statement:
"During his time in the United States Congress, Bill Owens has been a forceful advocate for the people of New York. Bill has helped create jobs and economic opportunity for hardworking North Country families and farmers. And as a proud veteran of the U.S. Air Force, he has protected the interests of our men and women in uniform. Michelle and I thank Congressman Owens for his service, and we wish him, his wife Jane, and their three children the very best in the future."
Meanwhile, local Democrats are looking for someone - anyone - who can win.
"I was shocked when i heard it. Disappointed when it heard it. But we'll go on from here," said Ron Cole, Jefferson County Democratic chair.
Three Republicans have already announced their candidacy: broadcast engineer and computer consultant Michael Ring of Adams Center, former George W. Bush administration aide Elise Stefanik of Whitesboro and former St. Lawrence County emergency services director Joe Gilbert.
"I've received overwhelming support so I'm excited about the prospects to bring a new leader to represent the north country," said Stefanik.
Among the names being circulated Tuesday as possible candidates for the Democratic nomination:
- Addie Russell, the highest ranking Democrat in northern New York after Owens. Russell represents the 116th state assembly district.
- Dede Scozzafava, who was the Republican candidate for the seat in 2010, but was driven out of the race by conservatives in her party. She currently works for Democratic governor Andrew Cuomo as deputy secretary of state.
- Scott Murphy, former congressman from Glens Falls. Murphy lost a 2010 election to Republican Chris Gibson. With the changes to NY 21, Murphy's residence reportedly is now in the district.
- Lowville native Brian McGrath, who wanted the congressional seat in 2009.
Owens did not announce any plans for after his term ends in December, saying, "it is time for me to undertake new endeavors and spend more time with my family."
Whatever he does, he says he "will continue to focus on helping to improve the lives of all New Yorkers, primarily through job creation and economic development."
Here is his full statement:
"After careful thought and consideration, I have decided not to seek reelection for the 21st Congressional District this November. I have enjoyed the opportunity to travel the district, meeting and serving the families and business owners of this vast community. It has truly been a privilege to serve, and I plan on continuing to work for a brighter future for the region.
"My appreciation for the support of my wife, children, grandchildren and close friends cannot be sufficiently expressed in words. There are others -- too numerous to list -- to whom I owe a great debt of gratitude. The remainder of my term will be spent in much the same way as the previous four years: assisting constituents with their individual concerns, continuing to focus on passing a Farm Bill, helping to create jobs in our communities, working for our troops and veterans, keeping the northern border secure and fluid and being a voice in Congress for bipartisanship, as well as fact-based decision making. You can count on me to work with and for you over the remainder of my term.
"It is time for me to undertake new endeavors and spend more time with my family. Even though I will not seek reelection, it is my goal that the next phase of my life will continue to focus on helping to improve the lives of all New Yorkers, primarily through job creation and economic development.
"Thank you for letting me serve you since November 2009."
Thursday, September 3, 2015, Watertown, NY
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