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Doheny’s entry into 21st race changes everything


Matt Doheny made it official today, jumping enthusiastically into the 21st Congressional District race to challenge Elise Stefanik, who has been annointed by 11 of the 12 Republican County Committee chairpersons.

Pointedly, Jefferson County declined to leap aboard that bandwagon, which may be because they either knew, or strongly suspected, that their favorite son would announce his candidacy.

Whether by good design or good luck, the Jefferson County Republican Committee is perfectly positioned to spearhead the effort to get Mr. Doheny on the primary ballot. It should take nearly no effort to find 1,250 Republicans in Jefferson County willing to sign a petition for the Alexandria Bay native.

And, according to a poll that may well have been commissioned by Mr. Doheny as part of his examination of whether he should enter the fray, he has a strong position in his challenge of Ms. Stefanik.

Ironically, Mr. Doheny will be able to level the “carpetbagger” charge against her, one that was used by Democrats against him in 2010. At that time, Mr. Doheny was portrayed as a rich New York City boy, come to the district so he could seek a vulnerable congressional seat. Now, Ms. Stefanik has shown up in Willsboro a year before the race she probably knew she was going to enter, while Mr. Doheny has lived and worked in the district for nearly five years.

Joseph M. Gilbert, DeKalb Junciton, must also be smarting a bit. He was the darling of the tea party crowd before Mr. Doheny entered the race, but that faction of the Republican Party showed strong support for Mr. Doheny in the poll, and at very least, with both men in the primary, the conservative wing of the party will likely be split.

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The Stefanik campaign wasted no time putting out an oblique response to the Doheny announcement — apparently, at least, because it did not mention him by name.

She did not, in the release, appear to be overwhelmed by her new opponent.

“Over the past year, I have crisscrossed the district and worked hard to build grassroots support. I am honored by the support and momentum my campaign has earned from Republicans, Conservatives, and Independents.” the release said. “Our campaign will continue to make the case that we have the best opportunity to win back this seat this Fall and provide new representation and new ideas to Congress on behalf of Upstate New York.”

In fact, the release could also have been referring to the entry of a second Green Party candidate, Matt Funiciello, in the race:

“I welcome the new candidates to this race and look forward to a robust discussion on the issues.”

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At least one other north country Republican also has stepped up to support an early endorsement of Ms. Stefanik.

Tuesday night, when word of the Doheny decision was apparently circling GOP enclaves, Franklin County Republican Chairman Ray Scollin issued a statement “in regard to actual or potential Republican late-comers in the NY-21.”

The statement appeared to stiff any Johnny-come-latelys to the contest.

“When incumbent Bill Owens was still in the race, Stefanik was doing the hard work of earning the support of grassroots Republicans, town and county committees, local business leaders and elected officials throughout the district. This is the hard work we expect from our future representatives in Washington.” Mr. Scollins’s statement read.

He then appeared to take a direct shot at Mr. Doheny: “Political opportunists are unfortunately a dime a dozen, while principled, energetic representatives are few and far between. I believe we could do with a little more earnest enthusiasm, and a little less ambulance chasing.”

A check of Times files indicates that there have been no local reports of Mr. Doheny chasing ambulances.

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To parse politics is to often guess wrong. But Darrel J. Aubertine’s reaction to Mr. Doheny’s announcement invites some armchair analysis.

After telling the Times that he has still not decided whether he will seek the Democratic nomination for the 21st district, Mr. Aubertine went on to criticize Mr. Doheny.

As Craig Fox reported: Mr. Aubertine, who was on his way to Malone to talk to constituents this morning, criticized Mr. Doheny, saying that in his announcement Mr. Doheny called himself “a good Republican.” But he also would be responsible for representing Democrats, Independents and others in the 21st Congressional District.

The Republican does not understand what struggling families go through, Mr. Aubertine went on to say.

So, if Mr. Aubertine is not going to toss his hat into the ring, what would be the point of the pointed anti-Doheny remarks?

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Another Republican who had been considering a run has been more gracious to Mr. Doheny.

Tupper Lake Mayor Paul Maroun said he would not run now that Mr. Doheny has entered the race. Mr. Maroun, who also is a Franklin County Legislator, told the Adirondack Enterprise this morning he would support Doheny’s candidacy.

“I’m a little surprised he moved so quickly, but like I said, if Matt Doheny decides to run, I will not,” Maroun told the Enterprise. “I have supported Doheny in his last two bids. Matt Doheny is the candidate that I think has the name recognition, he’s been through the mill twice now, knows what it is to travel this district and knows the issues. I will be supporting his candidacy.”

Before the Doheny announcement, Mr. Maroun told the Enterprise he was considering the run because the two main candidates, Ms. Stefanik on the Republican side and Aaron Woolf for the Democrats, were not full-time north country people, citing Mr. Woolf’s Brooklyn connections and saying Ms. Stefanik is not even registered to vote here.

He told the Enterprise “These two candidates now have never even lived in the district. I’m concerned. It’s been gnawing at me, like a toothache.”

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