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Sun., Oct. 4
Serving the community of Ogdensburg, New York
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After Siena poll, hand-wringing


The word on the lips of my liberal friend last night after a poll showed Republican Matt Doheny only one point behind Democratic Rep. Bill Owens: lackluster.
That's the conventional wisdom about Mr. Owens' campaign now. That it's lackluster.
Is that fair? Not really. I'd say more "low key." And it probably stems from Democrats' confidence in Mr. Owens' chances, a confidence that was shaken among some. We live in a post-Siena world now.
Here's what's happening on the ground. This race has failed to rise to the level of excitement that 2010 did. And it's been far from the 2009 special election. There are still five days left in the election, so it's possible that an 11th-hour major Democrat will come campaign for Mr. Owens. But the cavalry has not been called in this race — no Vice President Joe Biden (2009) or former President Bill Clinton (2010).
Mr. Owens' ads have been persistent, sharp and well produced. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has been predictably brutal with fliers and commercials suggesting Mr. Doheny "is only out for himself."
But the commercials haven't yet delved into the extremely personal nastiness — the Gawker photographs, the boating while intoxicated incidents (a flier about making a "Doheny martini" flirted with that line, but that's a flier, not a commercial. Again, low-key). Perhaps because they're confident in their own polling, Democrats have left those arrows in the quiver.
Here's another fact that's important to consider: Behind the scenes, the campaign is also hard at work phone-banking and canvassing and going door-to-door. That doesn't show up in television commercials. (Another important fact: Mr. Owens, a Democrat, still leads by one point in a +13 Republican poll).
I asked Mr. Owens if he would quibble with those who call his campaign lackluster. He does.
"We've gotten an endorsement from Governor (Andrew) Cuomo, probably the most popular politician in New York state," Mr. Owens said. "I think that's very significant."
But, I noted, he hasn't come up here to campaign yet.
Mr. Owens responded by mentioning his official-side interaction with Mr. Cuomo in the town of Jay to prepare for Superstorm Sandy.
"Those are real things. Those are not pep rallies. Those are real things, doing real acts for people that are important," Mr. Owens said. "I'd much rather the governor coming up here helping my constituents get ready for a disaster than any other type of campaigning."

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