ALBANY—Democrats insist they're not in a rush to pick a candidate for a special Congressional election, and are treating the potential Congresional run of State Senator Darrel Aubertine like a state secret.
"We're talking about days rather than … We're not following the Republican program," said Sean Hennessey, the Jefferson County Democratic chairman, who has served as a point person in the media for the 11 counties comprising the district. "We're doing our own thing, we're doing it very deliberately and I think it's very beneficial to the process."
He said that candidates still have until 5 p.m. this evening to submit materials. Earlier this week, State Senator Darrel Aubertine was saying he had not yet done so. Now, his spokesman Drew Mangione won't confirm whether or not the senator has. Hennessey said he "wasn't at liberty" to discuss potential candidates, and wouldn't say whether Aubertine had asked to be considered. A conference call of the chairs will take place Tuesday, Hennessey said, to discuss the "logistics" of the process going forward.
Several Democratic sources have told me that the party's nomination is Aubertine's for the taking, but he is facing pressure from state-level interest groups to stay in his Senate seat, lest it flip to the Republicans and spark greater chaos.
"I don't know if it will be announced today, but the senator's plans will be known shortly," Mangione said. This has been his position for a while.
Republicans last night named Assemblywoman DeDe Scozzafava as their candidate. They're also attacking Aubertine.
"I personally think, for what it's worth, that Darrel is going to run for this position," said Assemblyman Will Barclay, a Republican who ran unsuccessfully against Aubertine for his Senate seat after he edged out Scozzafava for that nomination. (His name was floated for McHugh's seat, but he dropped out, citing family obligations.) "I don't know that it changes his thinking on that at all. I just don't know. As far as matching up against DeDe as opposed to me, or anyone else, I don't know if it changes his perspective."
June O'Neill, the outgoing Democratic state chairwoman who is from St. Lawrence County, said the process "will play itself out in due time."
"I've said since the beginning that I, and I certainly don't think that the 11 county chairs would be discussing the relative pros and cons of people who are in or out of the race," she said. "If you want to know where Darrell's head is, you should speak to him directly."
Liz did. He hedged.