New York: GOP Plans Process to Pick McHugh Successor

Posted June 17, 2009 at 5:55pm

Upstate Republican leaders have announced the process by which they plan to select a nominee in the yet-to-be-scheduled special election to replace Rep. John McHugh (R).

The chairmen of the 11 county GOP committees within the 23rd district will host four public interview sessions across the sprawling district with candidates interested in gaining the nomination before making their choice.

McHugh has been nominated to be secretary of the Army, and the special election to replace him is expected to be highly competitive. The process of choosing a Republican nominee has taken on added significance in this race because the GOP was criticized for hastily nominating a flawed candidate during the recent special election in the adjoining 20th district, which Republicans lost.

“Our hearts are heavy because of John’s departure, but we are pledged to make the selection process as open and public as we are able to as a fitting tribute to a person of character and integrity who has served us all so well in the House of Representatives,— said Jim Ellis, chairman of the Franklin County GOP.

The Republicans who have already expressed an interest in running are investment banker Matthew Doheny, accountant Douglas Hoffman and Franklin County Legislator Paul Maroun. Several other GOPers, including state Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava and Franklin County District Attorney Derek Champagne, are looking at the race, though one strong potential candidate, state Sen. Joseph Griffo, announced Tuesday that he would not run.

State Sen. Darrel Aubertine remains the leading potential candidate on the Democratic side, though he has not yet decided if he will run.

Aubertine this week denied a report in New York magazine that he had spoken with President Barack Obama about running for McHugh’s seat. But he did tell the Watertown Daily Times that he had chatted with Rep. Steve Israel, the top recruiter for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, about running.