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The people’s choice: Stefanik scores decisive victory in this week’s GOP primary

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Data released last week by Harper Polling showed Elise M. Stefanik with a lead of eight percentage points over Matthew A. Doheny in the race for the Republican nomination in the 21st Congressional District.

Mr. Doheny countered that his own polling figures indicated he had the lead. But such internal polling is always suspect, especially when the numbers aren’t released and can’t be analyzed.

Suggesting that Ms. Stefanik surpassed the expectations established by the Harper Polling data would be an understatement. In Tuesday’s primary, she trounced her opponent 61 percent to 39 percent. That’s called a landslide.

Ms. Stefanik won 11 of the 12 counties that make up the 21st Congressional District. She defeated Mr. Doheny by a vote of 2,547 to 2,528 in Jefferson County, 819 to 523 in Lewis County and 1,935 to 1,593 in Lewis County. The only county won by Mr. Doheny was Herkimer, where his margin of victory was a paltry four votes.

Congratulations to Ms. Stefanik on a hard-fought and well-earned win. The Willsboro resident entered the race last August even before U.S. Rep. William L. Owens, D-Plattsburgh, announced his intention to not seek re-election. Ms. Stefanik has been vigorously campaigning throughout the district since jumping into the race.

We had endorsed Mr. Doheny for the GOP primary on this page because we believed he had a stronger connection to the north country and a deeper understanding of the issues that residents here face. We said he would be the better candidate to represent the voices of this portion of the district in the U.S. House of Representatives.

But the voters overwhelmingly saw things differently. There was a widespread sense of Doheny-fatigue as the Watertown resident had thrown his hat into the ring for this office three times before with no success. Republicans in this district were drawn to Ms. Stefanik as a representative of a new generation of conservative leaders.

It’s uncertain to what extent voters were influenced by the barrage of negative ads hurled against Mr. Doheny in this primary by American Crossroads, a super PAC with ties to GOP strategists Ed Gillespie and Karl Rove. The group spent about $800,000 in television and print ads during the campaign. In the months ahead, Ms. Stefanik should be held to account for claiming her campaign is all positive while simultaneously benefitting from obnoxious ads produced by people who have neither a connection to nor interest in the people of Northern New York.

But those matters will have to wait for another day. Right now, Ms. Stefanik should take some time to bask in her victory and reflect on all the people throughout the district who made it possible. For it is their hopes and dreams of a better life that she’ll take with her into the general election and, if her electoral success continues, the halls of Congress.

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