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National GOP may shift money to 21st Congressional race

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WATERTOWN — The primary election has yet to arrive, but national Republican operatives already are targeting the 21st Congressional District to reclaim a seat the party lost in 2009 to Rep. William L. Owens, D-Plattsburgh.

This comes amid reports that the National Republican Congressional Committee will cut off funds to Rep. Michael Grimm, R-Staten Island, in the wake of a federal indictment.

The New York Post quoted NRCC Chairman Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., as saying that the NRCC will “hold off” on Grimm’s campaign until the embattled congressman’s legal matters are sorted out.

The Washington, D.C., political website The Hill quoted another high-ranking NRCC official saying that the committee may redirect funds from Rep. Grimm’s campaign to other contested seats in New York state, including that of Rep. Dan Maffei, D-Syracuse.

There also is word that money initially allocated to Rep. Grimm will be shifted upstate.

“Unlike the DCCC, whose chairman seems to have written this seat off when he failed to mention the 21st District as a top priority in a recent interview, the NRCC views the 21st District of New York as one of the best pickup opportunities in the country,” NRCC spokesman Ian Prior said in an email.

“We intend to pursue every opportunity we have to maximize our chances to retake this seat historically held by Republicans.”

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesman Marc Brumer reiterated his organization’s support of Aaron G. Woolf, the candidate selected by Democratic chairpersons of the district’s 12 counties.

“The DCCC is proudly supporting Aaron Woolf, who is a strong candidate running in a district the president won in 2012,” Mr. Brumer said. “We will do everything necessary to make sure the people of this district — who elected Bill Owens in the three most recent elections — continue to be represented by a common-sense Democrat.”

Mr. Owens initially was elected by a special vote in 2009 and won re-election in 2010 and 2012. He announced in January that he will not seek re-election.

Two Republicans, Elise M. Stefanik and Matthew A. Doheny, are vying for their party’s nomination.

Ms. Stefanik is a first-time candidate while Mr. Doheny ran for the seat in 2010 and 2012.

Outside groups — including Americans for Tax Reform, the National Republican Congressional Committee, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Center for Individual Freedom and the American Action Network — spent more than $2.6 million trying to dislodge Mr. Owens in the 2012 election.

According to OpenSecrets.org, a website focusing on government transparency, the NRCC spent $77,174 on behalf of Rep. Grimm during the 2011-12 campaign cycle.

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