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Stark contrast seen early in Republican challengers campaign finance reports

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CANTON - The two Republican challengers gunning for the New York 21st Congressional District seat of Rep. William L. Owens, D-Plattsburgh, in next year’s election have released their third-quarter finance figures ahead of today’s deadline for filing with the Federal Election Commission, revealing a stark contrast early in the campaign.

Elise M. Stefanik, Willsboro, announced Monday that she has raised more than $180,000 in the few short weeks since she entered the race, including $165,000 in cash.

The 29-year-old Ms. Stefanik, who worked on domestic and economic policy in the George W. Bush White House before returning home to Willsboro to work at her family’s plywood distribution business, said in a news release that a substantial portion of the money — $70,000 — was raised online with the help of social media.

According to the release, Ms. Stefanik received small dollar donations from residents in every county of the district.

“As I continue to crisscross the district and listen, Upstaters tell me they want a new representative in Congress that will vote to create jobs and curb our debt, and not be a part of the tired old political blame game,” Ms. Stefanik said in the release.

Joseph M. Gilbert, the former St. Lawrence County Emergency Services director, said that he has raised just $3,000 since announcing in early August his intention to run for the seat.

Undaunted by the big numbers put up by Ms. Stefanik, Mr. Gilbert said he won’t really “ramp up” his campaign until after this year’s Nov. 5 election.

“The difference is experience and leadership,” Mr. Gilbert, DeKalb Junction, said. “She talks about fiscal responsibility and cutting government; I’ve actually done it.”

Mr. Gilbert, a 24-year veteran of the Army, said that as emergency services director he cut his department’s spending by 20 percent and increased services by carefully going over each budget line.

“Once we get out there and once we really start campaigning, the voters will see the difference,” he said.

Tim Biba, a spokesman for Mr. Owens, said the congressman’s quarterly report would be available from the FEC after it is filed today.

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