New York: Vet Tosses His Hat Into 23rd District GOP Race

Posted June 22, 2009 at 6:41pm

The list of Republicans who want to succeed Rep. John McHugh (R) — assuming he’s confirmed as secretary of the Army — continues to grow.

Veterinarian Gary Cooke, a former mayor of Port Henry, told the Watertown Daily Times on Monday that he will seek the Republican nomination in the yet-to-be-scheduled special election. He called helping the vast district’s many dairy farmers his top priority.

Cooke joins investment banker Matthew Doheny, accountant Douglas Hoffman, Franklin County Legislator Paul Maroun and obstetrician Ronald Uva on the list of Republicans who have formally announced their bids. Other potential GOP candidates include state Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava, Assemblyman William Barclay and Franklin County District Attorney Derek Champagne.

GOP leaders plan to interview interested candidates at four sites around the district.

On the Democratic side, state Sen. Darrel Aubertine is considered the strongest potential candidate by far, but he has not yet committed to making the race. The upstate district has been in Republican hands for decades, but with McHugh moving on, both parties consider the special election highly competitive.