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New York: DCCC Adds Owens to ‘Frontline’ Program

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is adding Rep. Bill Owens (D), the newly elected Congressman from New York’s traditionally Republican 23rd district, to its “Frontline— program for vulnerable incumbents. Owens is the 43rd Democrat added to the program, which is designed to bolster fundraising and outreach and help vulnerable Democrats prepare early on for competitive contests.

Owens won a tempestuous special election in the upstate district Nov. 3 to succeed former Rep. John McHugh (R), and he has had a target on his back ever since. Hours after he was sworn in, the National Republican Congressional Committee pounced on his decision to vote for Democrats’ health care overhaul legislation. Owens narrowly edged Doug Hoffman, the Conservative Party candidate, in the special election, a result the GOP rank-and-file blame on internal party disarray after Republican nominee Dede Scozzafava dropped out of the race two days before the election. Hoffman has not ruled out running again in 2010, and several other Republicans who were passed over for the party nomination are also eyeing the race.

GOP Interest in Maffei Seat Starts to Pick Up

Freshman Rep. Dan Maffei (D) is beginning to attract a crowd of Republican hopefuls in the 25th district. Businessman Mark Bitz, a former turkey farm owner, has filed the paperwork for a run and told the Syracuse Post-Standard he intends to give his campaign “a substantial amount— of his own money. Former Syracuse Councilor Ann Marie Buerkle is also seriously looking at the race, and strategists say at least one and perhaps more unnamed candidates have expressed interest. They join conservative activists Paul Bertan and David Gay in the GOP field.

Of those publicly expressing interest, Bitz looks to have the early momentum. “Bitz has a good amount of excitement behind his campaign … both in D.C. and in the district,— one Republican strategist said.

Republicans think Maffei is vulnerable because of his votes in support of big Democratic agenda items such as the health care overhaul, cap-and-trade climate change legislation and the economic stimulus package.

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