Republican Congress candidates differ in strategy

Four Republican candidates in New York’s 21st Congressional District are taking different strategies moving toward a primary election on June 24.

Elise Stefanik of Willsboro, a former staffer for President George W. Bush and Rep. Paul Ryan, has promised an all-positive campaign. She told the Enterprise during her endorsement by the Republican county chairs last month that she plans to run for the job and not against any particular candidate.

Matt Doheny, a former congressional candidate and Wall Street businessman who’s now president of a private investment firm in Watertown, is instead focusing on Democrat candidate Aaron Woolf with a touch of sarcasm.

“I’d like to congratulate Mr. Woolf on a full four weeks as a registered voter and formally welcome him to the absolute best Congressional District in America,” Doheny wrote in a press release Friday. “Like many in the press, I am eager to engage Mr. Woolf on issues like ObamaCare, taxing and spending, and what he feels qualifies him to represent the people of the North Country.”

Woolf has been quiet, only giving a cursory statement to the media since the Democratic county chairs endorsed him Feb 12.

Doheny is the most recent addition to the race, announcing his run on Feb. 19. Bob Honold, a Doheny campaign advisor, said they are still in the early stages of their campaign, working on a website and getting petition signatures, but after that is done, the campaign will shift gears.

“The moment that is over with, sights are set on Aaron Woolf,” Honold said, “because he would be a horrible representative for the North Country. Matt Doheny is going to be fully focused on that.”

Stefanik, meanwhile, is building up her campaign staff. She recently hired Matt Masterson to be her campaign manager. Masterson has previously worked for Republican state Sen. Betty Little and was the political director of the Republican state committee.

“Matt brings an impressive resume of political experience,” Stefanik wrote in a press release. “He knows Upstate New York well having worked on many local races, and understands the issues that matter most to us.”

Stefanik also appointed Anthony Pileggi as deputy campaign manager and director of operations. Jim Walsh, a prominent Republican Party attorney from Ballston Spa, will oversee the campaign’s ballot access and petition collection process.

Republican candidate Joe Gilbert of DeKalb Junction said on his Facebook page that he, too, has been focused on petitioning to get on the ballot.

“Packed day today dropping off petitions to the great team of volunteers from across the district,” Gilbert posted on Facebook. “I’m so grateful to everyone that is pushing this campaign! We’ll be on the primary ballot in June.

“We are on a mission to save America and restore the rule of law, the Constitution and this great republic.”

Republican candidate Jamie Waller of Lake Pleasant has a new campaign website, www.wallerforcongress.com, and recently wrote a letter taking a stand against those hoping the state removes railroad tracks between Old Forge and Lake Placid, replacing them with a multi-purpose trail.

Endorsement updates

Stefanik recently picked up an endorsement from the Susan B. Anthony List Candidate Fund, a group dedicated to electing women who oppose abortion.

“We look forward to seeing Elise succeed in this historically pro-life district so that she may serve as a voice for women, unborn children, and pro-life taxpayers in Washington,” wrote SBA List Candidate Fund President Marjorie Dannenfelser in a press release. “Her energy, experience, and passion for promoting the dignity of each human life will make Elise an excellent addition to the House Pro-life Women’s Caucus.”

Herkimer County Conservative Committee Chairman Daniel Pollak and Vice Chair Marilyn Williams released a statement in support of Doheny. It’s the fourth Conservative Party endorsement for Doheny, including from Saratoga, Warren and Washington counties. Pollak and Williams said part of their reason to endorse Doheny was because of his performance in the county in 2012. Doheny previously ran for office in 2010 and 2012, losing by slim margins to Democratic Rep. Bill Owens of Plattsburgh. Owens has decided to retire after his term ends at the end of this year.

“Matt Doheny’s conservative principles and expertise are badly needed in a Congress that refuses to meet budgets or save jobs like Matt has done in the real world,” the Herkimer County Conservatives said in their press release.

Honold said it’s only the beginning of the support Doheny is getting. Doheny was also endorsed early in his campaign by the Independence Party, which gives him guaranteed ballot access.

“The widespread support from the Conservative Party in the short amount of time is the beginning of more support to come,” Honold said.

Statewide Conservative Party Chairman Michael R. Long said it’s too early to tell which candidate will get his party’s nod.

Long said so far it appears to him that Stefanik is getting more Republican Party support and Doheny is gaining support from the Conservative Party at the county level.

“But ultimately the state Executive Committee will make the final decision,” Long said. “This hasn’t been discussed yet.”

That decision will be made on April 11, Long said.

“Until then I’m going to be keeping my eye on the bouncing ball,” Long said.