Candidates chosen for Congressional election

The candidates have been chosen for an anticipated special election in the 23rd Congressional District.

Committee members in the major parties have selected their candidates to fill the seat of Rep. John McHugh, who is expected to have his presidential nomination as Secretary of the Army confirmed in the next few weeks.

Republican candidate Diedre "Dede" Scozzafava, Conservative candidate Doug Hoffman, and Democratic candidate Bill Owens have emerged as the frontrunners in a three-way race for the yet-to-be-vacated seat.

Scozzafava, 49, of Gouverneur, is a State Assemblywoman representing New York's 122nd district, which makes up Lewis, much of St. Lawrence, and Jefferson Counties. She was chosen July 22 by a committee of GOP party chairs in each of the 11 counties within the Congressional District.

"I'm very honored to have received the nomination," she said, praising the open process by which party chairs interviewed the field of nine candidates. She has also been endorsed by the Independence party.

Scozzafava said she plans to focus her campaign on issues like job creation, economic development, and energy costs, which she sees as important.

"I think there's a very independent streak of people in the 23rd Congressional District," said Scozzafava, "and I think there are a lot of people tired of party politics."

Essex County Republican chair Ron Jackson described Scozzafava as an excellent candidate and a proven vote-getter. Though she tends to be more moderate on social issues like abortion and gay marriage, he said her record of fiscal conservatism should outweigh concerns that she is too liberal.

"I think that the majority of people understand her and will support her," said Jackson. "I don't think she will lose as (many voters) as she will gain for her consistency."

Some of Scozzafava's left-leaning views have put off many conservative Republicans, however, and Conservative party leaders chose Lake Placid accountant Doug Hoffman to challenge her.

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