With Election Day looming Tuesday, candidates running for office have taken to the streets, going door-to-door to make their final pitches to voters.
The election is just five days away, and candidates in New York's 21st Congressional District and 115th and 114th Assembly districts say there are still undecided voters to win over. Candidates are also encouraging people to simply go the polls, no matter whom they support.
Congressional candidate Matt Doheny speaks to likely voters during a campaign stop Wednesday at DJ’s Rustic Restaurant in Saranac Lake.
(Enterprise photo — Chris Morris)
In the race for New York's new 21st Congressional District, which sprawls across all of northern New York from the St. Lawrence River to Vermont, U.S. Rep. Bill Owens hopes to win another term by fending off two challengers: Watertown businessman Matt Doheny, who will be on the Republican, Conservative and Independence party lines on Tuesday, and Don Hassig, who is running on the Green Party line.
A Siena College poll released this week shows the race has tightened with Owens now leading Doheny by just one percent. Hassig has dropped to 4 percent of those polled.
Owens, a Democrat from Plattsburgh, said he will visit locations in each of the 12 counties that make up the 21st District before Tuesday. He said his campaign will target undecided voters and try to get out the vote.
At this point in the campaign, Owens said undecided voters tend to have a straightforward question for him.
"What they were looking for was my commitment to represent them," he said. "That's what they're asking me: Are you going to make our collective interests your priority? And that's when I assured them that's what I had done and will do in the future."
Doheny, who cruised to victory over Kellie Greene in the June Republican primary, said his plan is to see as "many people as humanly possible." On Wednesday he swung through the Tri-Lakes area, stopping at the Brighton Mini Mart in Gabriels, Swiss Kitchen in Tupper Lake, DJ's Rustic Restaurant in Saranac Lake and the Franklin Town Hall in Vermontville. He then planned to make stops in the Franklin County towns of Duane, Belmont and Malone before returning home for family Halloween festivities. He said he'll go nonstop until Election Day.
For Doheny, the last-minute pitch is simple.
"Give me a chance," he said. "I can do better than our current congressman. We can do better. And if you give me an opportunity, I promise you we will have results in every phase, whether it be in terms of voting the right way, in terms of economic growth and development, and better constituent service. Just give me a chance."
Hassig's campaign has been a roller-coaster ride. He made a strong showing at a debate in Queensbury, where he chided Owens and Doheny for not proposing big ideas like he has. Hassig has called for an all-defensive military and for the U.S. to withdraw from the World Trade Organization.
But Hassig has also taken his lumps. The state Green Party distanced itself from him after he suggested that Mexican farm workers shouldn't be allowed to milk dairy cows in New York.
In the final days of his campaign, Hassig will appear on Watertown Mayor Jeff Graham's radio show "The Hotline," and he will spread his cancer prevention message at Fort Drum. He said his message to voters is that he is a regular person.
"I'm not a millionaire, I'm not a lawyer - I'm not any of these things that sets those people apart from the main mass of the people," Hassig said. "I'm exactly like the main mass of the people. I tell them that I care about the earth, I care about the animals, I care about the people, I care about the water and the land."
The race for New York's new 115th Assembly District has been a bruising one. Incumbent Assemblywoman Janet Duprey won a tough Republican primary against Plattsburgh educator Karen Bisso and Cadyville businessman David Kimmel in September, only to face Bisso again in the general election as well as Plattsburgh City Councilman Tim Carpenter.
Bisso will be on the Conservative Party line in Tuesday's election while Duprey will be on the Republican and Independence lines. Carpenter is running as a Democrat.
Duprey said she's working hard to drum up support for her campaign, but the most important thing is that people go to the polls. She said she was disappointed by turnout figures in primary elections earlier this year. Duprey also predicted that voters will cross party lines this year.
"I think we're going to see a lot of split tickets this year," she said, "which is good. I think people should vote for the candidate, the candidate they believe in. I think that's the biggest message."
Bisso has campaigned as hard as any candidate. Despite working during the day for the Plattsburgh City School District, she has made the rounds to countless community events in Clinton, Franklin and St. Lawrence counties. She's also attended town council meetings in nearly every town within the 115th District and has promised to finish that tour even if she loses.
"This weekend, we'll be in Saranac Lake waving signs, like we were last weekend in Malone and the weekend before that in Plattsburgh," Bisso said. "And then I intend Monday night to spend a little bit of time with my family."
Carpenter, who's been the most low-key of the three candidates, said he also plans to ramp up his ground game in advance of Tuesday's election. He said he wants voters to compare the candidates and then make the best decision based on the facts.
"I mean, it's too late to try and change people's minds really," he said. "Maybe some other people think they still have a chance. I think people are pretty much set on how they feel about things. It's just a matter of picking the guy that's more like you."
A final debate will be held tonight in Beekmantown. Bisso and Carpenter will participate, but Duprey has said she couldn't attend due to prior commitments.
The two-way race to replace Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward in New York's new 114th Assembly District has seen fewer fireworks than the other big elections, but that doesn't mean the candidates have put in any less effort.
Queensbury town Supervisor Dan Stec - who will be on the Republican, Conservative and Independence party lines - has made the rounds at town council meetings across the district, which includes all of Essex and Warren counties and parts of Washington and Saratoga counties. He said his schedule is packed until Tuesday.
"I've been touting my experience and my track record of accomplishment," Stec said.
Stec said he's also pushing what he believes are three key endorsements: those of Sayward, state Sen. Betty Little and the Glens Falls Post-Star newspaper.
Glens Falls lawyer Dennis Tarantino, who will be on the Democratic and Working Families party lines, said he will go door-to-door and cover as much ground as possible in the next few days.
"The message is: I'm the right person based on my background and experience in the private sector," he said. "What I bring to the table is the best option for this district at this time."