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Stefanik picks up Conservative Party endorsement over Doheny

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Elise M. Stefanik has foreclosed on Matthew A. Doheny’s attempt to get the Conservative Party line in the 21st Congressional District election as she was selected Friday as the party’s candidate by the state party’s executive committee.

Both Ms. Stefanik and Mr. Doheny had tried to show their Conservative Party bona fides by collecting nominating petitions with a significant number of Conservative Party signers; Ms. Stefanik collected slightly fewer than 800 signatures, and Mr. Doheny more than 1,000. There are more than 6,000 registered Conservatives in the 21st district.

The Stefanik campaign was quick to get out the word of the endorsement.

“The announcement marks the culmination of Stefanik’s year-long effort reaching out to Conservatives in the district even before she officially announced her candidacy last August,” a campaign news release said. “Over the past eight months, Stefanik’s campaign has built a strong grassroots organization along with a strong and formidable fundraising network to win back the 21st Congressional seat.”

State Conservative Party Chairman Michael R. Long said an “overwhelming” 17 out of 19 members of the executive committee supported Ms. Stefanik because they believe she is a “new face” that “can best deliver a solution.”

“Matt had run twice and — not because they wanted a change for the sake of change — they felt Elise was the person to possibly win back the seat,” Mr. Long said. “It wasn’t a negative vote against Matt. They were all positive votes supporting Elise.”

Calls seeking comment were not returned by Ms. Stefanik’s campaign Friday afternoon.

David M. Catalfamo, a spokesman for Mr. Doheny, said it was “very disappointing” that party insiders who have no stake in the region chose to ignore the will of nearly 20 percent of north country Conservatives.

“While disappointed with today’s decision, we are not deterred, and with the Republican and Independence party lines our campaign will continue,” Mr. Doheny said in a statement Friday. “Together, the will of the people will win out over the will of Washington insiders.”

The endorsement means there will be no party primary. Ms. Stefanik will be on the party’s line in the general election in November.

It sets up a situation in which the Republican primary June 24 carries increased weight. If Mr. Doheny wins the primary, and Ms. Stefanik elects to retain the Conservative Party line, the ticket again will be split as it was in 2009 and 2010. Democrat William L. Owens, Plattsburgh, rode that split ticket to consecutive election victories.

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