In an interview with North Country Public Radio, Sayward — who is not seeking another term –said that Owens “has been doing a great job.”
” I’ve known Bill for many, many years He’s a businessman. He works in a nonpartisan way in congress. I’ve watched his votes. He’s voted several times in concert with Republicans on issues that are important to us. When I call his office with an issue…he is so responsive, particularly on veterans issues. He’s been wonderful and, yes, I do support him.”
Owens’ Republican opponent, Matt Doheny from Watertown, has received overwhelming support from GOP leaders in the district — including an endorsement from Peru’s moderate Assemblywoman Janet Duprey.
(Owens has won backing from some notable Republicans, including Moriah town supervisor Tom Scozzafava, and former Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava.)
Sayward, who has tangled before with conservatives over key issues, including same-sex marriage, said it was uncomfortable to endorse across party lines.
“It’s not an easy position, obviously because over the years the Republican committees have supported me and carried my petitions. But as an individual and someone who is retiring and will take on a different role, and it won’t be such a public role, I have an opportunity as an American to vote and support whoever I think is best for the job. I think that’s Bill Owens.”
It’s unclear how significant endorsements of this kind will be in the NY21 race, but Sayward’s backing is clearly a boost to Owens’ effort to appeal to centrist Republicans and GOP women.
CLARIFICATION: Chris Morris, reporter with the Adirondack Daily Enterprise, points out that he reported in March that Sayward planned to support Owens. “I would support both of them,” she said, referring to Democrat Owens and to Republican Chris Gibson. I was unaware of Chris’s article, which you can read here.