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County voters favor Obama, Owens

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By TIM FENSTER

MASSENA - It was another good night for Democrats running for federal office in St. Lawrence County as voters supported the incumbent candidates for president, U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives by significant margins.

St. Lawrence County voters favored President Obama over challenger Mitt Romney, 57 to 41 percent. Of the county’s 34,134 voters, 19,574 voters went wit the incumbent president, and 13,914 went with the Republican campaign. Voters also heavily favored Senator Kristen E. Gillibrand, a Democrat, over Republican challenger Wendy Long. Ms. Gillibrand won almost 70 percent of the vote, with 22,309 ballots in her favor. Mr. Long received 9,149 votes, 29 percent.

With 80 of 81 precincts reporting in St. Lawrence County, Congressman Bill Owens led Matt Doheny by a 19,191 (58 percent) to 13,453 margin. Green Party candidate Donald Hassig, Colton, received 441 votes, 1.3 percent.

A snapshot from exit polls show area voters, in many ways, mirrored national concernss. The top issue for many county voters appears to be the economy.

“We’re spending too much money because taxes are going up on everything,” said Gary B. Fuller of Massena. “We’ve got to downsize the government.”

Mr. Fuller said he is concerned about health care and social security. This appears to be a major concern among senior county voters – yet it too has voters divided.

“(Paul) Ryan’s proposal is to cut Medicare— cut programs that are important to every disabled and uninsured person in the country,” John N. Murphy, of Norfolk said.

Local voters also expressed concern over social issues, particularly same-sex marriage and abortion. Older voters were generally more supportive of Mr. Romney’s social stances, including his positions against same-sex marriage, government-funded birth-control and abortion.

Al W. DeLorenzo of Norfolk believes the Obama administration’s position on some social issues is anti-Christian and encourages people to go against the teachings of the Bible.

“I believe Romney will take a stand on moral issues,” Mr. DeLorenzo said. “I just don’t agree with sin. I believe in what the Bible teaches.”

Many area female voters said reproductive and health rights are the most important issues to them and said Obama was the best candidate on the issue.

“I believe women have the individual right to choose, and women’s rights are more important under an Obama administration,” Mr. Murphy said.

Another major, and divisive issue among area voters, is government support for education.

Shanequa A. Nurse, a SUNY Potsdam student who grew up in the Bronx, said she wants a president who makes higher education more affordable and provides more funding for public schools.

Others disagree. Elizabeth Beauvais of Massena said she believes the government should direct more funding to creating jobs than to making higher education more affordable.

“Working through college isn’t a bad thing,” Ms. Beauvais said. “Students get a free ride from the government, and there are no jobs when they get out of college.”

Some voters ackowledged that while the economy is still weak, the leaders in place might still be the best ones to reverse the nation’s problems.

“I think the people in place are doing their best,” Mr. Murphy said. “We need a president with a sense of humanity and understanding and who focuses on the needs of the 99 percent rather than the 1 percent.”

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