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Congressional Candidates Press Voters To Go To The Polls

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Two of the political first-timers on the ballot to replace retiring northern New York Congressman Bill Owens were in Plattsburgh Monday pressing voters to get out to the polls. Held by Republicans from the Civil War until 2009, the seat could swing back the GOP tonight.

Documentary filmmaker Aaron Woolf was recruited to run for the congressional district that encompasses 12 counties after Democrat Bill Owens announced in January that he would retire. His campaign headquarters was filled Monday with volunteers making get-out-the-vote calls.

Woolf has been circling the district, and he expressed confidence despite an 18-point lag in the latest poll.  “We did have to ramp up very quickly. What I do know is that I think we’ve hit our stride at the right moment. So wherever that momentum was built from I think it’s reaching its  crest now.”
 
Woolf adds that his campaign and the Democratic Party focus on constituent needs.  “We are the party that’s really invested in the future and we’re up against an opponent that has had 3.5 million dollars spent on her behalf. Money goes a long way in politics unfortunately. But we’re here to say that I think heart goes further.”

Owens joined Woolf to cheer on the Democratic volunteers.  He is astounded that over the weekend two major regional newspapers, the Glens Falls Post Star and the Adirondack Daily Enterprise endorsed Green candidate Matt Funiciello.  “That’s an area of concern. I also think that there is a false premise in the editorials and that is that Mr. Funiciello would be able to shake things up in Washington. If he gets down to Washington he largely would be pushed to the side because he would have no relevance to either party.”

Clinton County Democratic Chair Marty Mannix believes that while Woolf is trailing in the most recent poll by 18 points, the survey didn’t “go deep” with cell phones and younger voters.  “We think that the Aaron Woolf support is strong particularly across the northern counties and even in the western counties. The area that we’re concerned about is the southern part of the district because that’s where they have a massive Republican registration advantage.”

Republican Elise Stefanik, who at age 30 could become the youngest woman ever elected to Congress, spent Monday in Plattsburgh touring the Pine Harbor Assisted Living Senior Center and then stopped by Lake City Choppers, a Harley Davidson franchise. Owner Casey Spiegel wanted to show his support for her policies.  “Hopefully she’s going to help us help support the small business community and the environment, help us out with some of our tax issues and representation in D.C.   Everything from insurance to everyday policies that we have to deal with.”

Stefanik said she’s been working hard since she announced her candidacy in August 2013 and believes her voters will turn out overwhelmingly.  “We’re seeing that we have not only support among Republicans, Independents  and Conservatives but also Democrats. People are very frustrated with the gridlock in Washington. I feel great about where we are because people are looking for a positive campaign with ideas and someone who can hit the ground running on day one and be effective. And I’m the only candidate who has proven that I can do that.”

Woolf dipped into his personal finances to lend his campaign $800,000. While Stefanik shows donations of over a million dollars, her campaign has been boosted through the support of several PACs.  Funiciello’s FEC filing shows he has received $32,000 for his campaign. Clinton County Democratic leader Mannix decries the unbalanced amount of money in the northern New York campaign.  “I think what the Supreme Court did is a travesty. And you see it in this race when a canidate is the beneficiary of 4 million dollars of television advertising. That’s obscene. If we had any kind of public financing of elections, you’d never see that kind of money put on the table.”

Polls are open in New York until 9 p.m.

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