Doheny, Stefanik take similar platforms to North Country voters

Jun 24, 2014

For the past few months, North Country voters have heard a lot about the two Republican candidates running to represent the party in this fall's election for New York's 21st Congressional District. But the differences between Elise Stefanik and Matt Doheny aren't really that vast.

Both Stefanik and Doheny oppose the Affordable Care Act and want better care for military veterans. But while their national policies tow the Republican line, they have sparred some on the local level. For example, the two disagree on the I-98 "Rooftop Highway" project.

Elise Stefanik says she's against it.

"My family's small business, we have trucks on the road five to six days a week," Stefanik said during a June 12 debate. "We feel first hand the challenges stemming from our crumbling infrastructure system. So I hope to be a committed voice to invest in what we have. To invest in rail, roads, waterways, sewers, so that we can have a 21st century growth."

But Matt Doheny says it's all about investment.

"As someone who's spent a lot of time on Route 11 going from Watertown to all the stops on the way over to Plattsburgh, it's got to be improved," Doheny said. "Why does it have to be improved? Again, every door I knock on, how are you going to create jobs. Guess what? If it's hard to get in and out, if it's physically hard to get there, guess what? People aren't going to do it."

They also share slightly different views regarding the state's border with Canada. Stefanik says a balance has been struck between the two countries. Meanwhile, Doheny believes security along the state's northern border might be a little too tight and is restricting some types of tourism.

The two have also peppered each other with attack ads in recent weeks. The Karl Rove-led American Crossroads super PAC, which backed Stefanik, launched attack ads targeting Doheny's prior runs for office.

"Multi-millionaire Matt Doheny just doesn't learn from his mistakes..." an ominous voice says while a marker makes red X's over Doheny's "mistakes."

Donheny struck back with an ad questioning Stefanik's Washington, D.C. ties.

"We need the North Country to influence D.C., and not let D.C. influence the North Country," Doheny says in the ad.

In addition, both candidates have used their opponent's outside experience against them while simultaneously declaring themselves the true North Country candidate.

Doheny formerly worked on Wall Street, while Stefanik served in Washington under former President George W. Bush.

The winner of Tuesday's primary will go on to face Democratic candidate Aaron Woolf and Green Party candidate Matt Funicello in this November's general election. Woolf has also faced criticism from North Country voters about his residency in the district.

The winner will replace outgoing Democrat Rep. Bill Owen, who chose to retire earlier this year.