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Doheny sets up campaign account

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Matthew A. Doheny has opened a campaign account with $500,000 in personal funds, sending a clear signal to the Republican Party that he wants to be considered seriously for the 23rd Congressional District seat.

Mr. Doheny, a portfolio manager for a small investment partnership in Manhattan, has been told he will need to raise $3 million to $4 million to wage a successful campaign for the seat in a special election. Rep. John M. McHugh, the district's current representative, will leave his post if he's confirmed as Army secretary this summer.

"The goal is to raise all of it through myself and third-party money," Mr. Doheny said Monday.

Mr. Doheny is, for now, a one-man fundraising committee, contacting friends and colleagues and asking them to invest in his candidacy. The Alexandria Bay resident said several of his would-be benefactors live outside the district.

"I'd love to only bring resources from the district, but I don't think that's feasible," he said.

The 38-year-old doesn't expect his money to do all the talking. Mr. Doheny said he's spent the last two weeks touring the 11-county district and introducing himself to the Republican county chairmen, the group that decides the party's nominee for a special election.

Mr. Doheny said several GOP chairmen want to avoid the mistakes made during the party's losing campaign in the 20th Congressional District special election in April. He said the chairmen are lobbying for a more inclusive process that considers viewpoints from all counties so the most liked, most electable candidate emerges.

Many political observers believe the lack of unity behind James Tedisco, the party's candidate in the 20th district race, convinced many Republican committee members to stay home instead of actively campaigning for him this winter. In contrast, Scott Murphy, the victorious Democratic candidate, was the unanimous pick of his party.

For the anticipated race in the 23rd district, the Republican chairmen have organized four regional meetings, which start July 7, to interview prospective candidates. They have asked all committee members in the 11 counties to attend at least one of the meetings.

"They're definitely giving everyone the fair shake," Mr. Doheny said. "I don't think anyone has made up their mind."

The party uses a weighted voting method based on votes for Mr. McHugh in each county in the 2008 congressional election. As a result, chairmen in Jefferson, Oswego and St. Lawrence counties together control more than half of the vote when picking the next candidate.

Besides Mr. Doheny, other interested Republican candidates include Franklin County Legislator Paul A. Maroun, Essex County veterinarian Gary S. Cooke, Lake Placid accountant Douglas L. Hoffman, state Assemblywoman Dierdre K. Scozzafava, Gouverneur, Oswego obstetrician/gynecologist Ronald V. Uva and Assemblyman William A. Barclay, Pulaski.

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