Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward and Moriah town Supervisor Tom Scozzafava like the job U.S. Rep. Bill Owens has been doing since he entered office nearly three years ago.
Sayward and Scozzafava, both Republicans, joined Owens, a Democrat from Plattsburgh, as he marched in the Port Henry Labor Day parade on Sunday. Owens is running for re-election against Watertown businessman Matt Doheny, who will appear on the Republican, Independence and Conservative party lines in the Nov. 6 election.
"I haven't officially endorsed Bill yet," Sayward told the Enterprise on Tuesday. "I have talked to Bill, and if he feels that he wants me to do that, I will."
Rep. Bill Owens, left, and Matt Doheny
(Enterprise file photos)
State Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward
(Enterprise file photo)
Tom Scozzafava, Moriah town supervisor
(Enterprise file photo)
Doheny spokesman Jude Seymour said it's not surprising that Sayward is supporting Owens, since she has also made comments indicating she may vote for President Barack Obama. She told YNN earlier this year she was leaning toward Obama because she was disillusioned with the field of Republican presidential candidates.
"There are 245 more people out of work in Essex and Hamilton counties now than there was one year ago," Seymour said. "In total, there's 5,000 more people unemployed now than there was when our current congressman went to Washington. So we respectfully disagree with the assemblywoman's assessment that our opponent is 'best for the job.'"
Owens said in an emailed statement that working for communities is more important than party labels.
"I'm pleased that Assemblywoman Sayward feels the same way," he said. "I've worked with her for many years before we were elected to our current positions, and I hope to continue to serve as she has, reaching across the aisle for job creation and fiscal discipline."
Sayward, who will retire from her Assembly seat at year's end, said she would have marched with Owens and Scozzafava in a non-election year, because "elected officials do that." But she said she did wear an Owens for Congress pin.
"I support him because he's very responsive to his constituency and I know that personally," Sayward said. "I can't tell you how many issues come to my office that are federal issues, and I either call Bill or (U.S. Rep. Chris) Gibson. ... (Owens) has been particularly helpful on veterans issues.
"He's doing a good job."
Sayward said her standing as a Republican doesn't influence the way she votes. She said she appreciates what party leaders have done for her but added that she's an American.
"And in America, we still have the right to vote for who we think is the best candidate," Sayward said. "For me, that candidate is Bill Owens."
Sayward said she doesn't know Doheny personally and declined to comment on his candidacy. She added that she was impressed by Owens' role in bringing jobs back to the Plattsburgh area following the closure of the Air Force base.
Scozzafava joked that he walked with Owens on Sunday, not marched. The outspoken town supervisor, who supported Andrew Cuomo in his gubernatorial bid two years ago, said he backs Owens 100 percent.
"He's done his job, and he's done it well," Scozzafava said. "Whenever this community needed Bill, he was here. He was here for (Tropical Storm) Lee, for (Federal Emergency Management Agency) issues, health center issues - not to mention the individual constituents he's helped.
"I've been slammed by the GOP because I supported Owens. I was slammed for Cuomo. But I'm in public office; I'm supposed to do what's in the best interest of my constituents. I believe it's in the best interest of my people to support Bill Owens."
In June, Assemblywoman Janet Duprey, R-Peru, joined several of her colleagues from New York's 21st Congressional District to endorse Doheny.
"His success in the private sector demonstrates that he understands what it takes for businesses to thrive and expand and get our economy moving again," the Assembly contingent wrote in a letter to voters. "For all these reasons and many more, we're pleased to offer our endorsements and support to our friend, Matt Doheny."
On Monday, state Sen. Betty Little and Republican Assembly candidate Dan Stec joined Doheny to march in a parade for Holy Name School in AuSable Forks. Little and Stec couldn't be immediately reached this morning for comment.
Contact Chris Morris at 518-891-2600 ext. 25 or firstname.lastname@example.org.