Matt Doheny is the prohibitive favorite in this week’s Republican primary. He’s run a far more aggressive, well-funded and vibrant campaign than Kellie Green.
After his high-profile contests with Conservative Doug Hoffman and Democrat Bill Owens two years ago, Doheny has the name recognition, and he appears to have unified the vast majority of Republican leaders in the newly formed 21st congressional district.
That said, tomorrow’s vote will be a big test for the man who would love to reunite, at long last, the fractious conservative movement in the North Country.
Ever since tea party and Conservative activists derailed Dede Scozzafava’s can’t-lose run against Democrat Bill Owens, in the special election in 2009, the right has been bitterly divided.
The feuding continued in 2010, and certainly contributed to Owens’ narrow re-election in a district that had long been viewed as a GOP stronghold.
Barring a momentous upset by Greene, the question will be how unified the Republican vote appears behind Doheny.
There are no significant geographic divides in this race. The two GOP contenders are both from the St. Lawrence Valley — Doheny from Watertown, Greene from Sackets Harbor.
And there are no big ideological differences. Greene has tried to portray Doheny as the “Wall Street liberal” in this race, but hasn’t gained much traction on specific issues.
Still, during the election in 2010, many rank-and-file Doug Hoffman supporters were deeply grieved by Doheny’s candidacy — almost as grieved as Scozzafava’s supporters were by Hoffman’s candidacy.
That’s a lot of cross-currents. And by all accounts, Doheny has moved with caution and thoroughness to calm the waters.
(He won a major victory when Hoffman opted out of another run.)
We’ll see tomorrow whether or not Doheny has pulled it off and positioned himself well for a run against Owens. A commanding victory would give him a big boost toward November. (Sentence corrected.)
If we see a substantial showing for Greene, it could suggest that Republicans, Conservatives and Tea Partiers are still trying to find their way, making it more difficult for them to topple Owens.