SARANAC LAKE - A Wilmington man plans to run for Congress as a Conservative.
Jim Kelly, a former New York City police detective who has been active in the Conservative Party since the early 1990s, said he has contacted state Conservative Party chairman Mike Long and "he's left the door open; he's very interested," Kelly said.
The Republican Party chairs in the 11 counties of New York's 23rd Congressional District nominated state Assemblywoman Dierdre Scozzafava of Gouverneur. She was chosen after the party chairs and elected officials met with her and eight other candidates at four meetings held throughout the district earlier this month.
The deadline for Democratic candidates to submit their resumes was Thursday. A number of Democrats have expressed interest according to various media sources, including Mike Oot of Munnsville, Dan Francis and Robert Johnson of Watertown, William Owens of Plattsburgh, former Oswego Mayor John Sullivan, former U.S. Attorney Dan French, and Lowville native Brian McGrath. Darrel Aubertine, who many speculated would be the nominee, announced Thursday he won't run.
Ever since President Barack Obama announced longtime Rep. John McHugh's nomination as Army secretary in early June, there has been speculation as to who will replace him. McHugh is still the seat's occupant until he is confirmed by the Senate; no schedule has been set for the confirmation hearings, McHugh spokeswoman Stephanie Valle said Thursday.
"Many, many Republicans have called me voicing their upset over (Scozzafava's nomination)," Kelly said. "Dede Scozzafava is walking in lock step with one of the most liberal New York City Democrats, Assembly Leader Sheldon Silver."
Kelly said there is "no way" the Conservative Party, which often endorses Republican candidates, will endorse Scozzafava. He said the party ranks politicians on their support of the party's positions, and Scozzafava scored 15, only five points ahead of Silver (the highest score is 100).
Scozzafava has not been endorsed by the Conservative Party recently. She has been, however, endorsed by the Working Families Party, which generally endorses Democratic candidates, in her Assembly bids.
Kelly said he will step aside, with Long's permission, if the Republicans bring forth a more conservative candidate.
Kelly managed John Spencer's unsuccessful Senate bid against Hillary Clinton in 2006, and said he traveled 48,000 miles around the state while doing so.
"I'm going to work this fight," Kelly said. "I stand for conservative values; Dede Scozzafava and the Democrat don't. I'm going to expose her voting record."
Kelly said the 23rd District, like the 20th District where Democrat Scott Murphy beat Republican James Tedisco earlier this year, has a plurality of registered Republicans but also a large number of independents. However, he said, the people of the 23rd are more conservative, noting the 20th has a large number of New York City natives with seasonal homes in Dutchess and Columbia counties, and in the Albany area.
Kelly pledged, if elected, to only serve two or three terms and to donate half his salary to North Country food banks. He also said he will travel New York and the country to "be the salesman to bring business back to Watertown, Oswego, to the Plattsburgh area ...."
Kelly was a state trooper for two years, and then a New York City detective. He spent his last 10 years on the NYPD with the FBI/NYPD Joint Organized Crime Task Force. He testified against the Genovese crime family and investigated a plot to murder then-mayor Rudy Giuliani by the Genovese in 1995.
Kelly has been involved in state Conservative politics since 1993, when George J. Marlin, who now writes for the New York Post, ran for New York City mayor.
Contact Nathan Brown at (518) 891-2600 ext. 26 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Editor's note: This article appeared in the Saturday, July 15 print edition of the Enterprise but was accidentally not posted online until today.)