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Conservatives To Meet In Brewerton To Pick Congressional Candidate

Conservative Party members will soon carry out their threat to repudiate the Republican Party’s pick for Congress. They’ll meet next week in Brewerton to make their choice.

The seat that includes Oswego County will soon be open. The U.S. Senate is expected to vote as soon as this week to confirm current Congressman John McHugh of Pierrepont Manor as President Obama’s new Secretary of the Army.

Democrats have not yet chosen a candidate to content for the seat in the special election that could be held in November. But Republicans in the 11-county district enraged conservatives by picking Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava of Gouverneur to carry the GOP banner.

Scozzafava is a moderate Republican on social issues such as gay marriage and abotion. The leader of the statewide Conservative Party called Scozzafava a big spender and “out of touch” with the people of the district.

The Conservative Party announced that will hold interviews with the three candidates seeking its endorsement on August 7 at Noon at the Castaways Restaurant in Brewerton. The party plans to announce its choice at a news conference at 1:00 p.m.

The candidates are:

  • Lake Placid businessman Doug Hoffman, who sought the Republican endorsement and lost;
  • Retired NYPD officer Jim Kelly;
  • Longtime conservative activist Jon Alvarez of Hannibal, who is finishing a one year tour of duty as a Reservist in Iraq.

In a news release announcing the meeting, Len Schick of Fulton, regional vice chair of the Conservative Party, said “all three candidates strongly embody the ideology of the Conservative Party.” However, state Conservative chair Mike Long said he leans towards Hoffman because of his politics and his ability to raise quickly $1 million for the campaign.

The race is no longer a top-tier battle at the national level. There are only three Republican-held seats left in New York State and whoever wins the special election has a better-than-average chance of losing the district to reapportionment after the 2010 Census. The state is likely to lose at least two Congressional seats because of population declines.

State Senator Darrel Aubertine bowed out of the race. He was considered the Democrats’ best chance to take the seat because of his name recognition, conservative stands on social issues and rising national profile. However, any Democrat — and there are 11 of them seeking the nomination — sees his chances improve if a well-funded Conservative can split the right-leaning vote.

Even a second-tier race could be expensive. The sprawling Congressional district covers 11 counties in four media markets — Syracuse, Utica, Watertown and Plattsburgh.