Another Dem passes on a bid for the Owens seat

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ALBANY—Another potential Democratic candidate for the 21st Congressional District has taken himself out of consideration for a race this fall to replace retiring congressman Bill Owens.

John Sullivan, the former mayor of Oswego who was active in the formation of the state's Democratic Rural Conference, was one of several candidates who submitted his name to the 12 county chairs in the district ahead of a Wednesday meeting in Long Lake at which they will select a candidate.

Several other experienced candidates, including former congressman Scott Murphy, Assemblywoman Addie Russell and Darrel Aubertine, a former state senator and agriculture commissioner, declined to send resumes in accordance with the chairs' request.

Dede Scozzafava, a former assemblywoman who ran for Congress as a Republican in 2009, is the highest-profile candidate to formally seek the Democratic line. She remains an enrolled Republican, but works in the Cuomo administration.

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Sullivan submitted his name too, but is now pulling back. He had also spoken with a group of progressive activists who are seeking a candidate to support in a Democratic primary, but eventually decided he would be more effective changing Washington as an outside agitator.

“After three weeks of travel, deliberation and discussion with friends, family, and supporters, it is my conclusion that any real effort to reform the system on my part, should be directed from the outside in, and consequently, I will not seek the Democratic nomination for the 21st Congressional District,” Sullivan wrote in an email to the progressive group. “I thank those who expressed offers of support and encouragement for my potential candidacy, and I would encourage their continued involvement in supporting a progressive populist to replace outgoing Congressman Bill Owens. In so doing, I would encourage our local Democratic leaders to open up the process instead of shrouding it in secrecy and closing the doors to public participation and scrutiny. That would be an important step in the right direction. Barring that, to quote Yogi Berra. It seems to me that this is "déjà vu all over again.” ”

Sullivan was referencing the 2009 process—in which he was a finalist—that yielded Owens, a Plattsburgh attorney.

Washington County Democratic Chairwoman Sheila Comar, who has acted as the unofficial spokeswoman for the group, did not return calls. While the chairs are expected to coalesce around a designated candidate, any Democrat may petition into a primary with the valid signatures of 1,250 party-mates.

The designated Republican candidate is Elise Stefanik, a 29-year-old former White House aide. Matt Doheny, who unsuccessfully ran against Owens in 2010 and 2012, may also launch a bid.