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Stefanik visits Watertown, Belleville today; Schumer comes on behalf of Drum

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Elise M. Stefanik will continue her quest for the Republican nomination for the 21st Congressional District seat with an extended visit to the Watertown area today and Thursday.

Ms. Stefanik will visit Knowlton Technologies, a favorite spot in the city for visiting politicos, from 1:30 to 2:30 today, followed by a tour of the Watertown Urban Mission, just down the street, from 3 to 4 p.m. Then, in something of a whimsical departure, she will engage in a meet-and-greet from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Barley Pub in downtown Belleville.

On Thursday, she will meet with the editorial board at the Times in the morning.

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The city will be political hotspot today, as U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer will visit City Hall at 2:45 p.m. to rally residents behind Fort Drum.

According to a news release from his staff, “Sen. Schumer will vow to fight any potential reductions in Army personnel at Fort Drum. Schumer will say that, even in an era of downsizing and with the potential return of sequestration in 2016, Ft. Drum should be one of the Army’s top priorities because of their essential assets. Ft. Drum houses light infantry who are capable of rapid deployment, which fits the Army’s stated goal of transitioning to a more highly trained and mobile force. Schumer will say that Ft. Drum and the 10th Mountain Division represent the epitome of what the future Army should look like, and he will fight any attempt to reduce their personnel. Schumer will discuss the Army’s proposed reductions and how he plans to ensure Ft. Drum maintains high levels of staffing – for both military and civilian employment.”

With the announcement this week that the Army will study the economic impact on the region of cutting as many as 16,000 soldiers and civilian employees at the base, Fort Drum’s local supporters are looking for all the firepower they can muster to fight cuts beyond the already announced deactivation of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team.

Right now, the base has a ratio of one civilian employee to every 4.3 soldiers. The reduction of 16,000 soldiers and employees would mean the lost of almost 4,000 civilian jobs and more than 11,000 soldiers, if that ratio holds.

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Buffalo’s Carl P. Paladino, an erstwhile gubernatorial candidate and extremely wealthy political gadabout, told the Buffalo News that he would mount an effort to draft Donald J. Trump as the Republican candidate to challenge Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.

Mr. Trump announced last week that he would not run, after saying earlier in the year he would run but only if no one else in the party challenged him. He dropped out after Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino announced his candidacy.

The Buffalo News story says Mr. Paladino had considered running as a tea-party affiliated independent candidate, an effort that would take a lot of money and a high level of organization. To gain such a ballot line, a candidate must gather “15,000 signatures in at least half of the state’s congressional districts to qualify for the statewide ballot,” the News reported.

“The threat was received with anything but enthusiasm by the state’s Republican and Conservative hierarchy, which hopes to confront Cuomo this year with a united front behind Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, the apparent Republican candidate,” the paper said.

The likelihood of a “Draft Trump” movement seems extremely low despite Mr. Paladino’s suggestion. Mr. Astorino has received a reasonable level of approval from Republican Party officials around the state, and Mr. Astorino appears ready to seek his nomination by primary if that becomes necessary. Since Mr. Trump has already said he won’t participate in that, the Paladino suggestion has little chance of gaining sufficient support.

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