The last couple of election cycles, New York’s 23rd congressional district — now redistricted as the 21st — has drawn a maelstrom of national attention, due in part to Doug Hoffman’s Conservative campaigns.
This year’s rematch between Democratic Congressman Bill Owens from Plattsburgh and Republican challenger Matt Doheny promises to be extremely competitive, but so far there’s not a ton of interest outside the North Country.
The Republican National Congressional Committee has added Doheny to its “Young Guns” line-up of hopeful candidates, a sign that the GOP sees this as a marquis match-up.
For the most part, the Beltway press corps isn’t so enthusiastic. The non-partisan journal The Hill scores this one as “leaning” Democratic.
Real Clear Politics does not include NY-21 in the list of 25 House seats “most likely to switch party.”
Politico, on the other hand, included Owens on a list of members of the House Armed Services Committee who appear vulnerable in November.
The Air Force veteran, who’s running in a redrawn district, has been weighed down by a scandal over his December visit to Taiwan.
Owens recently reimbursed the government $22,132 after ProPublica and POLITICO reported that he and his wife had stayed at luxury hotels on the four-day trip, which is believed to have been arranged by lobbyists — a possible violation of ethics laws.
Owens’s challenger, Republican banking manager and former House candidate Matt Doheny, has been identified as a rising star through the National Republican Congressional Committee’s Young Guns program. Doheny has seized on the ethics issue, accusing his opponent of being too cozy with lobbyists.
The race is a rematch of their 2010 faceoff, which Owens won by only a few thousand votes.
And then there’s the Cook Political report, which also concluded that the race currently “leans Democratic.” The site requires a subscription, so I can’t link to it.
But a Democratic operative sent me part of Cook’s analysis, which referenced Doheny’s “blowup” with Gawker.com, which webcast video of the Republican “at a DC bar smooching a political consultant who was not his fiance.”
Doheny denied that there was anything untoward going on in the video, but at this point he may be too damaged to be one of the GOP’s top challenger prospects. This race will still be somewhat competitive thanks to Doheny’s spending capability, but after surviving 2009 and 2010 in unusual fashion, Owens still looks like one of the luckiest Democrats in the House.
Meanwhile, a Republican operative sent me links to two other sites, Roll Call and Rothenberg, which give Doheny more of a shot, with Rothenberg calling the race “a pure toss-up” and Roll Call concluding that this “is going to be a tough seat for Democrats to keep.”
We’ll know more about this race in the next month, when polls start to give a better indicator of where things stand. meanwhile, what’s your sense? Is Owens vulnerable? Has Doheny made his case?