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Conservative Party chairmen urge state party leaders to back Doheny; Woolf blasts GOP budget

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The battle for the Conservative Party endorsement in the 21st Congressional District general election has subsumed the question of who will gain the Republican endorsement — at least for now.

On Wednesday, candidate Elise M. Stefanik announced she had turned in more than 700 names on petitions to run in the Conservative primary. Fellow Republican Matthew A. Doheny countered with an announcement that he had filed more than 1,000 signatures. There are 6,131 registered Conservatives in the district, according to the state Board of Elections.

Also on Wednesday, the Glens Falls Post Star put out a release, which it said it got from the Doheny campaign, that carried a statement by five of the county Conservative Party chairmen in the district reaffirming their endorsement of Mr. Doheny and calling on the state’s executive committee to honor their decision and place Mr. Doheny on the party’s line in November.

Because neither Mr. Doheny nor Ms. Stefanik are registered Conservatives, the state party would have to grant a Wilson-Pakula permission for either of them to appear on any Conservative Party ballot line.

With both candidates turning in petitions, the state committee must now decide whether to choose one candidate over the other and issue just one Wilson-Pakula ruling. Or it could force a primary on June 24 by granting each candidate permission to run.

The five county chairmen who the Post Star story said signed the letter seeking support for Mr. Doheny were Carol Birkholz of Warren County, Henry Ford of St. Lawrence County, Beverly Jakway of Washington County, Daniel Pollak of Herkimer County and Robert Zordan of Saratoga County.

“We made our choice and we ask that you respect our judgment and stand with us,” the letter is quoted as having said.

State Conservative Party Chairman Michael Long told the Times Wednesday that the committee would make its decision tomorrow.

If there is a Conservative Party nominee who loses the Republican primary, it will set up an interesting situation for the general election.

For example, if Mr. Doheny gains the Conservative Party line and the Independence Party line (which he has already been promised) but loses the Republican primary, there is no doubt the Republican Party will ask him to step off the minor party lines. However, with two lines and considerable name recognition, there will be temptation to go on to the general election — even though he said he would not do so.

Similarly, if Ms. Stefanik loses the Republican primary but gains the Conservative Party line, she will have to make a decision then whether to continue or fold her cards.

Incumbent Rep. William L. Owens, who is stepping down this year, won elections in 2009 and 2010 with split-party voting. It’s hard to believe Republicans haven’t learned their lesson by now, but in the heat of the campaign, it’s impossible to predict an eager candidate’s actions.

— PLW

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The Times has been trying for several days to get statements from Ms. Stefanik and Mr. Doheny on the federal budget offered up by Rep. Paul Ryan, a former boss of Ms. Stefanik.

Apparently, Democratic challenger Aaron G. Woolf is as tired of waiting for a response as are we. In a release this afternoon, he issued this statement:

“I am disappointed that both Elise Stefanik and Matt Doheny refused to stand up against Paul Ryan’s plan to end the Medicare guarantee, raise taxes on middle class families, slash education, and threaten our region’s economic future. Today Stefanik and Doheny’s far right wing allies in Congress once again voted to pass the Ryan Budget which would hurt numerous middle class families in Upstate New York and the North Country. Instead of rubberstamping Paul Ryan’s reckless budget, we need to work together to find responsible solutions that grow our middle class and create more jobs.”

— PLW

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