If Republican voters in the north country do what few prognosticators expect them to do on June 26 — pick Kellie Greene to be their standard-bearer in the Nov. 6 congressional election — Matt Doheny will have virtually no way of avoid another ballot split.
The time period for Mr. Doheny to decline Conservative and Independence party nominations has already passed. So unless Mr. Doheny disqualifies himself by moving out of the state or if he runs for another office, he's on those lines in November, no matter what happens in the GOP primary, said John Conklin, a spokesman for the state Board of Elections.
Here's why that's important: In the 2009 and 2010 races, Rep. Bill Owens, D-Plattsburgh, won in no small part due to the fact that two Republicans were on the ballot both times.
The second time was particularly instructive. Before the GOP primary, the Conservative Party gave Doug Hoffman the nod, which he couldn't turn down after accepting. And the Independence Party gave Mr. Doheny the nod, which he couldn't turn down after accepting, either.
Whether GOP voters picked Mr. Doheny or Mr. Hoffman, both of their names were going to be on the ballot. They picked Mr. Doheny; Mr. Hoffman remained on the ballot and, Doheny supporters say, siphoned off enough votes from Mr. Doheny to seal the narrow victory for Mr. Owens. That's despite the fact that Mr. Hoffman wasn't publicly campaigning.
This time, though, GOP voters could avoid a split by picking Mr. Doheny. If he wins, he's got Mr. Owens one-on-one. If Ms. Greene wins, Mr. Doheny's name will remain on the ballot — the flip side of what happened in 2010.
I asked Mr. Doheny's camp whether he would continue to campaign in the event that he lost the GOP primary (he's the favorite, with monetary, institutional and name-recognition advantages).
They wouldn't say. Here's the response in an email via spokesman Jude Seymour:
"Since participating in one of the 10 closest House races in 2010, Matt has worked hard to make sure that he is the nominee of the Republican party. He's been endorsed by all 11 county GOP committees that offered endorsements - as well as by a host of other prominent Republicans. We've set the stage to take on our current congressman and Matt will do anything it takes to beat him."