PLATTSBURGH — Incumbent U.S. Rep. Bill Owens (D-Plattsburgh) was elected to a third term in a tightly contested race against Republican opponent Matt Doheny on General Election Day, Nov 6.
Owens, a longtime local Plattsburgh attorney, won with 50 percent of the vote compared to Doheny's 48 percent. Third party candidate Donald Hassig — who was denounced by the Green Party following comments he made at a candidate forum in mid-October and then later threw his support behind Owens — siphoned off two percent of the vote.
Reached for comment in Watertown following the balloting, Doheny spokeswoman Laura Chambers said Doheny will follow the absentee ballots but said he was officially conceding the race.
She said he is not ruling out another run in the future.
With 93 percent of the voting districts reporting, the balloting stood at 106,489 for Owens and 103,059 for Doheny.
Bill Owens arrived at American Legion Post 20, the Democrat headquarters in Clinton County, shortly after midnight to loud applause. He walked up to the podium and said, "About three minutes ago, Matt Doheny called me to concede."
"A tremendous amount of work went into this," he told the crowd assembled. "So many folks went above and beyond. As you go through this process, you certainly learn a lot, and my education continues.”
“I will continue to represent you from the ground up. We need to bring the middle class up,” he said, noting that President Barack Obama won a second term in office.
“I hope this causes us to come to rationale compromise and next year we do things that are a benefit to us all. We need to make sure we are lifting all of us up so all of us are doing better two years from now. We need rational compromise. I will reach across the aisle and forge compromises that make sense.”
Owens won in two of the four local counties. He won handily in his home county of Clinton by the tally of 16,554 to 9,979 and won in nearby Essex County 7,213 to 6,181. Doheny took Warren County 13,017 to 11,381 and Hamilton County 1,555 to 897.
There are more than 17,000 absentee ballots still yet to be counted, so a final count will not be known for more than a week.
According to the state Board of Elections, there are 174,028 enrolled Republicans and 116,026 Democrats in the district.
A former Wall Street investment banker who lives in Watertown, Doheny ran on a platform of promising to unshackle small business by removing burdensome government regulations and said he’d fight to repeal the national Affordable Health Care Act, also dubbed “Obamacare.”
Owens voted in favor of the Affordable Health Care Act in 2010 saying portions of it are vital to protect the health of citizens — like forcing insurance companies to provide coverage for pre-existing conditions,extending coverage for college students up to age 26 under their parents’ health plans, and banning insurance companies from cancelling insurance of those who are ill.
Doheny also challenged Owens two years ago with a similar outcome. In 2010, Owens won the race, capturing 48 percent to Doheny's 46 percent in the 12-county district. A third candidate, Doug Hoffman drew off 6 percent of the vote on the Conservative Party line.
A Siena Research Institute poll released five days before Election Day showed Owens and Doheny in a statistical dead heat, and former New York Governor George Pataki spent a majority of the day before Tuesday conducting last-minute campaigning alongside Doheny, later endorsing the congressional hopeful in Plattsburgh.
In the race for cash, the two candidates were also in nearly a statistical dead heat, with the most recent campaign filings showing they had raised similar amounts — $1.8 million for Owens versus $1.7 million to Doheny — although $750,000 of Doheny's amount was self-financed.