Poll gives Democrat Owens edge in tight 23rd Congressional District race

The first major poll in the 23rd Congressional District race gives Democratic incumbent Bill Owens a

The first major poll in the 23rd Congressional District race gives Democratic incumbent Bill Owens a five-point lead over Republican Matt Doheny.

The Siena College Research Institute issued polling data Wednesday that evaluated the race with and without Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman, who suspended his campaign after his defeat in the GOP primary.

Despite his withdrawal as a serious candidate, Hoffman remains on the ballot and the poll found that he continues to draw voter support.

The poll asked voters called Oct. 5-7 who they would choose if the election were held then, and 15 percent said they would still vote for Hoffman, a Saranac Lake accountant.

But, to a second question reminding voters that Hoffman has withdrawn and asked supporters to vote for Doheny, the poll found 1 percent would still select Hoffman.

On those same two questions, Owens leads Doheny 42 percent to 31 percent with Hoffman included and 44 percent to 39 percent with Hoffman excluded, Siena reported.

Owens, a Plattsburgh lawyer, was elected in last year’s special election to replace John McHugh, the Watertown-area Republican who for years represented the traditionally Republican North Country district, which stretches as far south as Fulton County.

That also was a three-way race. Hoffman, running on a national stage with tea party and Sarah Palin endorsements, lost by about 3,000 votes.

Moderate Republican Dede Scozzafava, succumbing to pressure as Republicans in and out of state switched their support to Hoffman, suspended her campaign. She still received about 8,000 votes.

Doheny spokesperson Alison Power responded Wednesday to the new polling numbers, asserting the “only poll that matters is on Nov. 2 … we’re confident about that one.”

On Wednesday, days after former presidential candidate and Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney endorsed Doheny, the Plattsburgh tea party affiliate UNYTEA also endorsed the Republican.

Doheny is a lawyer and Watertown businessman who worked previously as an investment banker on Wall Street.

UNYTEA was a major supporter of the Hoffman campaign.

UNYTEA Chairman Mark L. Barie issued a news release accusing Owens of supporting the policies of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi 93 percent of the time and said Owens has broken all spending records in his first year in office.

In his own news release, Doheny, also the Independence Party candidate, pledged to repeal the health care reform legislation passed earlier this year.

He promised a better alternative that he said does not lead to “nationalized medicine.”

The Owens’ campaign did not respond Wednesday to a request for comment on the Siena poll.

But in a statement last week, Owens said: “Upstate New York has a clear choice this November. While I’ve spent decades helping to create over 2,000 jobs and have made job creation and economic development my number one priority in Congress, Matt Doheny has different priorities. I’ve supported tax breaks for companies that create jobs here in Upstate New York, not overseas, and want to strengthen Social Security for current and future generations.”

Owens criticized Doheny for his ties to Wall Street and accused him of supporting cuts in Social Security and tax breaks for companies that outsource jobs overseas.

Categories: Schenectady County

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