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In NY21 race, Doheny, Owens wrangle over fall debates

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A disagreement has erupted over debates in the race for the North Country's seat in congress. The campaigns for Bill Owens and Matt Doheny say they have agreed to a total of four debates this fall.

For the most part, the candidates have each chosen different events and different venues. But the two sides have agreed to appear at one debate in late September in Glens Falls.

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Reported by

Brian Mann
Adirondack Bureau Chief

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A lot of national pundits are describing the North Country's House race as a toss-up. And debates can be a huge factor, helping undecided voters in particular make up their minds.

On Wednesday, Republican challenger Matt Doheny announced that he had accepted three debates against Democratic incumbent Bill Owens.

Doheny wants to take part in events in Plattsburgh, Glens Falls and Watertown. They would be hosted by WPTZ, YNN Television and the Adirondack Chamber of Commerce.

In a statement, Doheny said that voters “deserve to hear our competing visions for America.”

But in a statement issued later in the day, a spokesman for Bill Owens said more negotiations are needed before any debates can be scheduled.

In an email James Hannaway wrote that Owens had received “roughly a dozen offers from community organizations, newspapers and TV stations.”

“This is the first we've heard from the Doheny camp,” Hannaway wrote. “If the Doheny campaign wants to talk debates, we're willing to have a conversation.”

According to Owens team, the Democrat has already agreed to one different debate than the ones chosen by Doheny, sponsored by the Washington Farm Bureau. Hannaway says other invitations are being evaluated.

Both men have apparently agreed to meet at the event held by the Adirondack Regional Chamber of Commerce in Glens Falls on Sept. 25.

The timing and venue for debates are often sticking points in congressional campaigns, especially when the race is expected to be close.

New York's 21st Congressional District includes most of the North Country. Two years ago, Doheny lost to Owens by a narrow margin.

Follow Brian Mann on Twitter @BrianMannADK.

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