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First-time officeholder New York Democrat Bill Owens entered Congress after winning a special election in November 2009 when his predecessor, Republican John McHugh, was appointed Secretary of the Army.  The 65-year old Owens was the first Democrat to represent the 16,000-square mile district since the Civil War era. Last January, he announced he would retire from his seat.  In this first part of a two-part series, WAMC’s North Country Bureau Chief Pat Bradley talks with Owens about his House experience and future plans.

WAMC/Pat Bradley

A new WWNY-7 News/Siena College poll released Monday night shows Republican Elise Stefanik leading her challengers in New York’s 21st district congressional race by 18 points. With less than a week left before voting begins, Democrat Aaron Woolf spent part of Tuesday rallying his supporters in Plattsburgh, with help from retiring Congressman Bill Owens.

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In January, Congressman Bill Owens of New York’s 21st district announced he would retire. That set off a scramble to find a Democratic candidate. District chairs eventually chose filmmaker Aaron Woolf to run against Republican Elise Stefanik.  But the Democratic campaign has been bumpy with polls showing Woolf 10 points behind and the House Majority Political Action Committee pulling nearly $300,000 in ads. Bill Owens has supported Woolf’s campaign, making joint appearances and calls to gain support.  Owens, the first Democrat to represent the district since Reconstruction, tells WAMC’s North Country Bureau Chief Pat Bradley that he’s not concerned about the challenges facing the Democratic candidate.

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New York’s 21st Congressional district includes the Fort Drum military installation, and because there once was a large air force facility in Plattsburgh, many veterans live across the region. So any military moves made by the federal government — such as the current bombing in Syria and Iraq —pique the interest of constituents. Democratic Representative Bill Owens voted in favor of the resolution that authorized the training of the Syrian opposition. He says representatives recognized that in voting in favor of that, they were actually authorizing the air strikes in Syria and Iraq.

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New York Congressman Bill Owens held a conference call this morning with fellow Democrat Aaron Woolf, who is seeking to replace the retiring Owens. The two criticized the Republican challenger in the 21st Congressional District race and called on her to support bills to enhance economic opportunity.

New York Congressman Bill Owens represents New York’s 21st Congressional District, which stretches from the St. Lawrence River to Lake Champlain and Syracuse to the Canadian border. WAMC’s North Country Bureau Chief Pat Bradley spoke with the retiring Democrat this morning on several national and international issues.

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As he prepared to return to Washington following the Memorial Day recess, Congressman Bill Owens, a Democrat from the 21st district, spoke to WAMC’s North Country Bureau Chief Pat Bradley about issues facing returning representatives.

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New York Congressman Bill Owens held one of his periodic telephone town halls with constituents Wednesday evening.

The race for New York’s 21st Congressional district is far from settled, despite the fact that both parties have already endorsed candidates. Former two-time candidate Matt Doheny announced his bid this morning, the third Republican in the primary.

Aaron Woolf

Democratic chairs in the 12-county 21st Congressional district have announced their endorsement of a candidate to run for the seat being vacated by retiring New York Congressman Bill Owens. They’ve selected an individual with no political background.