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What you need to know for 07/21/2017

Election 15 months away, Rep. Owens already has a challenger

Election 15 months away, Rep. Owens already has a challenger

Though voters won’t go to the polls for 15 months to elect a congressman for the North Country’s 21s

Though voters won’t go to the polls for 15 months to elect a congressman for the North Country’s 21st Congressional District, the opposition is already lining up for U.S. Rep. Bill Owens, D-Plattsburgh.

Republican Elise Stefanik, 29, is traveling the region announcing plans to face off with Owens for the sprawling district, which includes parts of Saratoga and Herkimer counties and all of Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Fulton Hamilton, Jefferson, Lewis, St. Lawrence, Warren and Washington counties.

Stefanik, of Willsboro, Essex County, said Friday she’s getting an early start on her campaign.

“I think that’s important in order to talk about my issues,” she said, noting that the district is geographically large.

“I’m taking the time to travel around the district as much as possible,” Stefanik said.

On her campaign website eliseforcongress.com, she details a variety of positions she’s held in the past, including serving as director of vice presidential debate prep for Paul Ryan. Before that, Stefanik served as policy director of the 2012 Republican National Platform.

Other positions include director of communications for the Foreign Policy Initiative, which created Defending Defense, a coalition formed to warn about defense cuts.

Stefanik also served as policy director for the presidential campaign of former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty.

She served in the White House under President George W. Bush in the Domestic Policy Council staff and in the chief of staff’s office, according to her website.

Owens represented what was then the 23rd Congressional District starting in 2009.

Redistricting changed the area to the 21st Congressional District, and Owens in 2012 won election to that seat, beating Republican-Conservative Matthew A. Doheny of Watertown.

A veteran of the U.S. Air Force, Owens worked for more than 30 years for a law firm practicing business and tax law.

Owens issued a statement via email Friday in response to questions from the Daily Gazette.

The statement reads: “I respect Elise Stefanik’s commitment to public service. As we get closer to the election next November, I look forward to having a spirited discussion of the issues that matter to our region. Until then, I will remain focused on serving northern New Yorkers in Congress.”

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