Republican congressional candidates Elise M. Stefanik and Matthew A. Doheny, who both attended the Armed Forces luncheon, spoke about the importance of Fort Drum to the 21st Congressional District and the upcoming primary election Wednesday after the event.
Two-thirds of soldiers do not live on base. There are no clinics; there is no hospital on base, Mr. Doheny said. The fort is truly integrated into the community. There are also thousands of civilians who make a good living working on base. Its so integral to the north country.
Ms. Stefanik was also outspoken in her support for the base, which has grown significantly since the mid-1980s. Ive been very clear, she said. I was against sequestration and I am against across-the-board defense cuts, Ms. Stefanik said.
If elected, Mrs. Stefanik said, she will work with other congressional representatives from New York state to ensure the continued viability of Fort Drum and its special community relationship. I will work with anyone willing to partner to advocate for Fort Drum, regardless of party affiliation, Ms. Stefanik said.
Mr. Doheny said a district representatives role is to serve as the spokesperson and advocate to make sure Fort Drum is represented in Washington. These things are important. I will do anything and everything to make sure Fort Drum not only continues but grows.
To get to that point, one candidate first will have to win the June 24 primary election, a task that will only grow more difficult as Ms. Stefanik and Mr. Doheny make their cases to district Republican voters in the coming weeks.
Both candidates have traded jabs while moving toward the primary.
Sponsoring 10 lunches for soldiers, Ms. Stefanik merited a seat at the head table, according to Lynn M. Pietroski, CEO and president of the Greater Watertown-North Country Chamber of Commerce.
For his part, Mr. Doheny touted his long-standing connection to the area and his business background as his strengths as a candidate. I grew up here in the district, I live here in the district, I will live here, he said. Im a self-made businessman. I know what it means to develop and start a business. If you want to talk about creating jobs and improving the economy, send a businessman to Washington.
Ms. Stefanik dismissed the Mr. Dohenys campaigns attempts to portray her as a Washington insider who is out of touch with the district. She called it negative mudslinging that has ultimately been unsuccessful in previous campaigns.
A former White House policy adviser who works as a sales representative for her familys plywood distribution business, Ms. Stefanik said its Main Street versus Wall Street, to distinguish herself from her opponent.
I havent engaged in the negative politics and campaigns of the past, and Im focusing on a running a positive campaign, she said.