The Hamilton County Republican Committee voted Thursday to endorse Watertown businessman Matt Doheny ahead of this fall’s election in New York’s 23rd Congressional District.
Doheny has now locked up nine county GOP nominations in the 11-county district. Two county committees, Lewis and Franklin, have opted not to endorse a candidate.
That gives Doheny a clear advantage over North Country accountant Doug Hoffman, who he’ll face in a September primary. Both candidates are angling for Republican support in their bids to unseat Democratic Congressman Bill Owens.
Alison Power is a spokeswoman for Matt Doheny’s campaign.
“I think everyone, Matt especially, is very pleased and very grateful for the support from those Republicans throughout those nine counties,” she said. “We’re very happy with that.”
Doheny is also seeking support from the Conservative and Independence parties and Power notes some of the more influential party officials are backing his campaign.
“What’s great about this is that we have the support of some of the most active Republicans throughout the district, the people in these communities who are active day-to-day in the political process,” she said.
Some voters in the 23rd District are growing weary of a potential three-way race in November, as Hoffman has indicated he’ll run with or without Republican support.
A Doheny primary victory could lead to a repeat of last year’s special election, when Owens capitalized on a split among voters on the right.
Power notes that Doheny has pledged to step aside if he’s not victorious in September.
“Matt feels that for the good of the district – to get the district back into mainstream Republican and Conservative hands – we’ve got to be unified,” she said. “So Matt has pledged that if he does not win the Republican primary, then he will be withdrawing from the race because he does not want to have a split ticketed situation.”
But Hoffman supporters aren’t concerned about a three-way race. Campaign spokesman Rob Ryan says that despite the support of GOP county committees, a Doheny victory in September is anything but a sure thing.
“It’s obvious that the Republican county chairs don’t understand the facts,” he said. “Last November, over 69,500 people voted for Doug Hoffman on the Conservative Party line – the vast majority of those people were registered Republicans. They will vote for Doug Hoffman again on primary day, and Doug will unite the Republican and Conservative parties so we can defeat Bill Owens in November.”
Spokespersons for both candidates say campaign activity will begin to ramp up in the coming weeks.
Petitioning to get on this fall’s ballot begins June 8.