Murphy's decision not to run leaves Democrats without a clear option for the seat, which became more competitive for Republicans with Owens’s announcement earlier this month that he’s not running for reelection.
The former lawmaker represented part of the district after his election to Congress via special election in 2009, and would’ve been able to self-fund to some degree.
Other potential Democratic candidates include former state Sen. Darrel Aubertine, Plattsburgh town supervisor Bernie Bassett and state Assemblywoman Addie Russell.
Republicans have a top-tier recruit already in the race in Elise Stefanik, who was endorsed by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) for the seat.
Stefanik is facing a handful of conservative challengers in the GOP primary, but she remains the party favorite, which could deliver her the endorsement of county party leaders when they gather Wednesday to decide on a candidate.