As Democrats jostle to fill U.S. Rep. Bill Owens' upcoming void in New York's 21st Congressional District, a former congressman from Glens Falls and a county board chairman from Jay appear to be testing the waters to run.
An official at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in Washington, who requested anonymity, said the buzz among people there is that Scott Murphy is the strongest, most serious candidate to replace Owens, who announced last week he will not seek re-election in November.
"I'm not making any decisions right now," Murphy told the Enterprise. "But I love the North Country and am committed to finding the best way I can to continue to help create good jobs and strengthen the economy for hard-working families."
Murphy, a venture capitalist, lost re-election in 2010 to Republican challenger Chris Gibson in New York's 20th District. He had been voted into office in a 2009 special election, succeeding Kirsten Gillibrand who had been appointed to a U.S. Senate seat. His residence in Glens Falls used to be a part of the 20th District but, since the 2012 redistricting, is now in the 21st.
Randy Douglas, chairman of the Essex County Board of Supervisors and supervisor of the town of Jay, is another Democrat contemplating a run.
"You know, it is something I am considering," Douglas said. "I am very proud of my record serving five years now as the chairman of the county Board of Supervisors."
Douglas said he has received calls from both Democrats and Republicans asking him to run.
"I am flattered to be considered by many of my constituents." he said.
Douglas said that he will decide this week after he talks it over with his family.
Owens' office gave no statement on whom he might endorse.
Little endorses Stefanik
Sen. Betty Little, a Queensbury Republican who is related to Murphy by marriage, will not be in the running for the congressional seat. After weighing her options, she has decided to run for re-election in the 45th Senate District, which she has represented since 2002.
"Having taken some time to think about it, I've decided not to seek the Republican nomination for the open Congressional seat and will run for reelection to the New York State Senate as I had planned." Little wrote.
Little told the Enterprise that Elise Stefanik, a Republican from Willsboro, is her favorite choice for the seat, saying that she believed in Stefanik's values.
For the Republican ticket, the race for the 21st District has so far been a three-way contest between Stefanik, Joe Gilbert of DeKalb Junction and Michael Ring of Adams Center.
Stefanik, a graduate of Harvard University, was a former aide to President George W. Bush and worked as director of debate preparation for Congressman Paul Ryan during his 2012 vice presidential debate. Little's endorsement is her most recent from a key Republican leader.
Ray Scollin of Saranac Lake, Franklin County Republican Committee chairman, said the endorsement means things are starting to come together for Stefanik.
"Betty Little is a huge endorsement," Scollin said. "Nobody knows the district better than her."
Scollin hasn't endorsed a candidate yet. He said North Country Republican leaders will choose one at a meeting Feb. 5.
"They are getting behind a single candidate," Scollin said. "We have a huge chance to win this."
Ryan and Doug Hoffman of Lake Placid, a tea party icon and two-time Conservative Party candidate for this congressional seat, have also endorsed Stefanik.
"She's got the values and the work ethic to get the job done," Ryan wrote of Stefanik. "She's part of a new generation of leaders who will bring fresh ideas to Washington, and she has my full support."
Stefanik said that she was proud to have Ryan's support and that she agreed with his positions on fiscal responsibility.
"He's been a thoughtful and vocal leader in Washington to solve problems, and has worked hard towards getting our nation's spending under control and our budget balanced," Stefanik wrote. "Fiscal responsibility and growing our economy in the North Country are top priorities for my campaign."
Gilbert's campaign website shows endorsements by dozens of right-wing and conservative Facebook groups.
Green Party member Donald Hassig of Colton is also a candidate for the 21st District seat.