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Barclay: Not Running For Congress

<br />Assemblyman Will Barclay (R-Pulaski)
Assemblyman Will Barclay (R-Pulaski)

There’s at least one fewer potential candidate among the Republicans who want to represent the North Country in Congress.

Republican Assemblyman Will Barclay of Pulaski pulled his name from consideration Monday in a brief statement.

“After much consideration, I’ve decided not to run for Congress at this time.  Though I’d like to add to the dialogue at the federal level, with two young sons in elementary school, this is not the right time for my family and I.  The amount of encouragement that I have received to run for the 23rd Congressional District is humbling and I’d like to thank all of those who were willing to put their faith in me to be their Congressman.  I also feel there is more to do — much more to do — in the Assembly and look forward to continuing my work to change Albany.”

North Country Congressman John McHugh of Pierrepont Manor is slated to leave the job sometime later this year to become Secretary of the Army for President Barack Obama.  He was nominated by President Obama, but the process to confirm his nomination has not yet begun.

If and when he leaves, the door flies wide open for a successor.

The North Country’s been represented by a Republican since the Civil War but parts of the 13-county district are trending purple, if not blue.  And the most Republican areas, Jefferson and Oswego counties, elected a Democrat to the State Senate last year, Darrel Aubertine, over Barclay in an expensive and bruising pair of campaigns.

Barclay’s departure leaves as many as eight Republicans seeking the nomination of the committees of the various counties of the 23rd Congressional District.  Regional meetings for political committee members only begin Tuesday night.  The regional meeting involving Oswego County and its neighboring counties takes place Thursday night in Verona Beach.

The Watertown Times reports Barclay was at least exploring the idea of running as late as last Tuesday, when he was one of four potential candidates to meet with the St. Lawrence County Conservative Committee.

Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava of Gouverneur was also at that meeting.  She has reportedly hired a top fundraiser to gear up for a run.

Aubertine is considered the best-known candidate among Democrats.  The rookie state Senator hasn’t said yet whether he will run or not.  It would be hard for Aubertine to leave now as the Senate is tied at 31 Democrats and 31 Republicans.  The state Independence Party has reportedly offered to back Aubertine if he decides to run for Congress, but the party’s founder, billionaire Tom Golisano, is behind the effort in the state Senate to get Democrats to switch sides and give power back to Republicans.

Former Oswego Mayor John Sullivan, a former deputy state Attorney General in Watertown, is also exploring a run.  Like Aubertine, he has won elections in areas with lots of Republican votes.

Parties don’t have to pick their candidates until McHugh is confirmed as Secretary of the Army.  His confirmation hearings have not yet been scheduled.