After nearly two years of maneuvering, name-calling, backroom finagling, map redrawing, and good old fashioned North Country politicking…it’s on.
Matt Doheny, the investment banker from Watertown, will face off against Bill Owens, the former businessman and attorney from Plattsburgh.
In 2010, this race was settled by roughly 2,000 votes and that was with Doug Hoffman still on the ballot as a Conservative alternative (even though he had formally dropped out of the contest).
In a district that has historically been a GOP stronghold, Doheny clearly has a real shot at reclaiming the NY-21 district. “The opportunity… it’s a clear one-on-one shot,” he told the Watertown Daily Times.
But a lot has changed since 2010. Owens has established himself as a true incumbent.
He’s navigated a markedly moderate line, championing farmers and gun rights at the same time that he was embracing President Barack Obama’s stimulus plan.
On the other hand, the district has also changed significantly, with the old NY-23 shedding its central New York turf and gaining a big swath of rural country in the Glens Falls area.
In those communities, neither Doheny nor Owens is the incumbent.
It also remains to be seen whether Matt Doheny has truly unified the Republican-Conservative-Tea Party coalition that he’ll need to prevail. The Watertown report found some simmering discomfort with his candidacy on the right.
Polling 72% to 28% against Kellie Greene in yesterday’s GOP primary is a respectable showing for Doheny, but hardly dominant – particularly against an opponent who ran an underfunded, lackluster, largely invisible campaign.
That means Doheny garnered roughly 8,577 votes to Greene’s 3,396. Remember that in the last Doheny-Owens match-up, the Republican fell short by 2,000 votes. That suggests there’s some work yet to be done.
(It may not help that the NRCC is still calling out Doug Hoffman, describing him in a press release issued last night as a “spoiler” for his role in the 2010 vote.)
Doheny will benefit from the fact that redistricting made NY-21 even more Republican-tilting (by party registration) than the old NY-23 district was. He’ll also have plenty of money to spend between now and November.
The bottom line is that this promises to be one of the most competitive, and fiercely contested, races in the U.S.
It won’t have quite the melodrama of 2009 and 2010, but this will be a campaign between two well-spoken, capable politicians. Get ready for those TV spots and those robocalls!
UPDATE: The Owens campaign is pushing a narrative today that Doheny received far fewer votes in this primary than he did in 2010, down roughly 47%. In St. Lawrence County, the number of Doheny votes dropped by nearly two thirds.
The Owens camp describes this as a decline in interest for Doheny.
A more likely factor: this was an under-publicized primary, with an outcome that was largely settled, unlike the Doheny-Hoffman contest two years ago.
But it is fair to note that turnout and voter enthusiasm could be a big challenge for both candidates in November.
|County||Doheny Votes 2010||Doheny Votes 2012||% decline||Clinton||958||787||-17.85%||Franklin||383||293||-23.50%||Hamilton||420||268||-36.19%||Jefferson||2,967||1329||-55.21%||Lewis||798||356||-55.39%||Madison||1,972||NA||NA||Oswego||3,342||NA||NA||St. Lawrence||2,906||1078||-62.90%||Essex*||823||623||NA||Fulton*||831||837||NA||Part of Oneida||911||NA||NA||Warren||NA||1015||NA||Washington||NA||695||NA||Saratoga**||NA||1048||NA||Herkimer**||NA||268||NA||Total||16,311||8597||-47.29%|