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Stefanik opposed to further troop reduction at Fort Drum

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As a story already on the Times website indicates, Darrel J. Aubertine, former state legislator and former ag commissioner from Cape Vincent has removed himself from the race for the 21st Congressional District, leaving one less late challenge for Aaron Woolf to deal with.

Mr. Aubertine had been mulling a run for some weeks, he said Wednesday, but decided that he would rather keep working as a special assistant in the state comptroller’s office.

During a visit to the Times news room, Mr. Aubertine had a word of caution for any candidates for a north country political seat: stay in the middle of the road.

“This area isn’t that fond of people on the far right or the far left,” he said.

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While it is nice to be noticed, it was surprising how quickly the National Republican Congressional Committee jumped on Darrel Aubertine’s decision not to run.

Within an hour, the NRCC put out a press release linking to the Times story of Mr. Aubertine’s decision and likened it to a partywide tossing in of the towel by 21st CD Democrats.

“In case you missed it, today Darrel Aubertine conclusively ended speculation that he would run for Congress in the 21st District of New York by unequivocally stating that he would not be a candidate.” the release from Republican operative Ian Prior said. “If you’re counting, that’s at least five Democrats who saw the writing on the wall and declined to run for the seat in 2014 – Aubertine, Bill Owens, Scott Murphy, John Sullivan, and Addie Russell.”

He went on: “The (sic) leaves the Democrats with Aaron ‘The Who’ Woolf, who is apparently still registered to vote in Manhattan.”

The longer the Democrats and their candidate remain hidden, the more fodder the Republican Party organization and the individual GOP candidates will be able to use to tarnish the candidate.

Mr. Woolf called the Times this morning and offered to engage in an “off the record” conversation, which was respectfully declined. If Mr. Woolf continue to avoid the press, we may have to publish his cell phone number so people in the 21st district can call him directly with their questions.

Power to the people.

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In a release that may have offered insight into how Elise M. Stefanik would vote if elected to the 21st Congressional District seat, on Tuesday she expressed “concerns” about Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s announcement he plans to shrink the Army from more than 500,000 to about 440,000 troops.

Noting that Fort Drum is “the largest single employer not only in the North Country, but in New York State”, the Republican candidate said “As a candidate seeking to represent New York’s 21st Congressional District, I have concerns about yesterday’s announcement from Secretary Hagel regarding the defense budget which would shrink the Army to its lowest size since 1940 and reduce base defense spending to less than 3 percent of GDP.”

Ms. Stefanik vowed to continue the staunch defense of Fort Drum that has marked the Northern New York congressional representatives since the days of Rep. David O’B. Martin.

“Our next Member of Congress must be a strong advocate to continue to preserve and strengthen Fort Drum in the coming decades,” her release said. “I am committed to protecting Fort Drum and ensuring that our men and women in uniform have the resources they have earned to protect the country. Fort Drum is home to the 10th Mountain Division — the most deployed division in the U.S. Army — and we deserve a Member of Congress who will fight everyday on their behalf.”

Ms. Stefanik ends her release with general support of maintaining a strong military.

“While our country faces grave fiscal and economic challenges, we should not be balancing our country’s budget on the Defense Department and backs of our brave military servicemen and women and their families,” the release said.

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The Adirondack Daily Enterprise reports that the Saranac Lake Republican Committee has endorsed Ms. Stefanik over Matthew A. Doheny of Watertown, Joseph M. Gilbert of DeKalb Junction and James Waller of Lake Pleasant. The paper said committee members felt Ms. Stefanik would bring a clear change to Washington, even though most of her experience since college has been inside the Beltway.

The paper said the committee also endorsed Assemblywoman Janet L. Duprey in the 115 Assembly District and Sen. Betty Little in the 45th Senate District, saying both women have been strong advocates of the north country in Albany.

Read the full story here: http://wdt.me/mokUfG

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As the Adirondack Daily Enterprise reported earlier this week, teach and Conservative Party member Karen Bisso will run for the 115th Assembly seat she sought unsuccessfully two years ago.

Ms. Bisso’s announcement discussed her objections to “the travesty known as Common Core” and the state Legislature’s quick passage of the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Act.

She likens Common Core to “the nationalizing of our education system,” and also criticizes the new teacher evaluation system.

“As a proud member of the North Country Alliance for Public Education, I will be standing with and advocating for parents to participate in the OPT OUT initiative for common core testing,” the Plattsburgh High School teacher said in a news release.

Her opposition to the SAFE Act has been vocal, she said.

“Over the last year, I have been honored to participate in and be a guest speaker at over a dozen rallies state wide protesting the SAFE Act, a law which makes law abiding citizens criminals and continues to portray New York as unfriendly,” her statement said.

She also criticized moves by the Cuomo administration to reduce prison beds across the state.

“And finally, in this district, we may lose yet another prison, a necessary employer and staple for our upstate economy all the while tens of millions of dollars have been thrown at stimulus programs that have yet to show any provable results and inmates and illegal aliens are offered a free college education,” she said.

Assemblywoman Janet Duprey holds the seat, which includes five towns in St. Lawrence County and all of Franklin and Essex counties. She captured 53 percent of the vote in a three-way race in 2012.

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Closer to home, Democratic candidate for Jefferson County Sheriff Colleen O’Neill announced today the main New York State Police employees union, the PBA, has endorsed her candidacy.

"In times of economic difficulty, there is generally a corresponding increase in crime, and the PBA is confident that Colleen O’Neill will guide the Jefferson County Sheriffs Department in a direction that best provides law enforcement protection for residents," the endorsement states in part.

"I appreciate the State Troopers PBA recognizing my experience and work ethic and their expression of confidence in me," Ms. O'Neill’s news release said.

In January Ms. O’Neill received the endorsement of the NY State Police Investigators Association.

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