While Republican committee chairs of the 12 counties that make up the 21st U.S. Congressional District announced their endorsed candidate with a press conference and public introduction, the Democrats were much more reserved Feb. 12.
Members from the Democratic committees met in Long Lake two days before Valentine’s Day to quietly make their choice for a candidate to replace the current incumbent Congressman, Democrat Bill Owens of Plattsburgh, who announced earlier this month that he would not be seeking re-election.
Their choice: Aaron Woolf, the “King Corn,” documentary filmmaker who has a home in Elizabethtown.
“I am proud to earn the unanimous support of the 21st Congressional District’s 12 Democratic Chairs and I am honored they have chosen me as the best candidate to continue Congressman Bill Owens’ work fighting for our middle class and protecting Medicare,” Woolf said in a prepared statement. “I am looking forward to discussing my ideas about ways we can work together to spur our local economy, create new jobs, and protect all North Country families.”
The meeting that led to the endorsement of Woolf was kept vague from members of the media, unlike the Republican’s highly publicized event held in Elizabethtown a week earlier. Emails to the Valley News from Essex County Democratic Committee member and former Minerva Supervisor Sue Montgomery Corey did not state a location (Adirondack Hotel) or time (11 a.m.) for the meeting.
Another potential candidate, Trevor Johnson, was reported to have been interviewed at the meeting while a third, John Sullivan, opted out of the process.
In his statement, Woolf said he was “eager” to speak with people throughout the district.
“Upstate New York is a great place to live, work, raise a family, and retire - but we need to make sure it stays that way for future generations,” he said. “I’m committed to ensuring our kids have access to a quality education and will work to improve and enhance our region’s infrastructure so our local business can grow and our economy can thrive. I am very eager to discuss my ideas and hear from North Country voters in the weeks and months to come at events in the community, in their living rooms, and at their doorsteps.”
The committee chairs also released a statement from Washington County chair Sheila Comar.
“We appreciate the consideration given to this race by so many talented people,” Comar said in the statement. “We unanimously agree that Aaron Woolf is the best candidate to continue Representative Bill Owens’ work to protect our seniors and the Medicare guarantee, middle class families, and reflect the independent spirit that makes the North Country strong. Woolf is a problem solver who will take a commonsense approach and is committed to working together to find solutions that create more jobs and spur New York’s economy.”
When asked if a primary was a concern for the party, Corey said with petitions needing to be filed in the near future, there may not be time for another candidate to decide to make a run.
“A primary is always possible, but with the window on getting the signatures coming so soon, I think it would be really tough to get the necessary signatures to get on the primary ballot,” Corey said.
At current, Woolf would potentially face Republican-backed candidate Elise Stefanik, who has a home in Willsboro, in the November General Election. Stefanik received the support of the GOP committees Feb. 7, but may face a primary as Joe Gilbert, who attended the interview process with the chairs and was turned down, said he would seek to file a petition in order to bring a primary election to determine the Republican nominee in June.
An email from the Woolf camp stated that there would be a formal campaign launch at a later date.