Candidates in the Republican primary in the 21st Congressional District on Tuesday are focusing on door-to-door campaigning as they wrap up a short, but intense, campaign that has divided party loyalists.
Elise Stefanik, a plywood company vice president from Willsboro, had already lined up endorsements from many of the county Republican committees in mid-Janurary when U.S. Rep. Bill Owens, D-Plattsburgh, made a surprise announcement he would not seek re-election.
This prompted Matt Doheny, a venture fund manager from Watertown who lost to Owens in 2010 and 2012, to make a late entry into the race in mid-February.
The race became a high-cost primary in which campaigns and political action committees have spent more than $1.64 million on advertising including $764,081 by American Crossroads, a political action committee co-founded by Republican strategist Karl Rove, has spent on advertising opposing Doheny.
It is the first time American Crossroads aired ads opposing a Republican House candidate in a primary election.
The candidates distinguish themselves by their approach to government and experience.
Stefanik, age 29, said she would bring a youthful perspective to Congress.
“We also talk about how this is a generational choice to move in a direction with positive solutions and independent ideas about how we can get our country on track,” she said Saturday in a telephone interview.
Doheny, age 43, said his business expertise is important.
“I am a successful self-made business guy who has saved and created thousands of jobs,” he said Friday in a telephone interview.
Stefanik said Doheny’s experience is in losing elections.
Doheny said Stefanik would be beholden to political action committees that have supported her candidacy.
The candidates have similar positions on most issues.
Both candidates support repealing President Obama’s health care reform law and support term limits for members of Congress, and both have said if elected they would post their daily schedules online.
Both candidates received “AQ” ratings, the highest rating possible for a non-incumbent, from the National Rifle Association.
Eleven of the 12 county Republican committees in the district have endorsed Stefanik, but some committee members have backed Doheny.
Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential candidate and Paul Ryan, vice presidential candidate, have endorsed Stefanik, and many Republican House members have contributed to her campaign fund.
Doheny has received endorsements from four state legislators: Sens. Patti Ritchie, R-St. Lawrence County; Sen. Joe Griffo, R-Rome, Assemblyman Ken Blankenbush, R-Watertown; and Assemblywoman Janet Duprey, R-Peru.
Sen. Elizabeth Little, R-Queensbury, has not made an endorsement, but she contributed $500 to Doheny’s campaign fund Thursday.
Assemblyman Dan Stec, R-Queensbury, endorsed Stefanik.
Both candidates will be on the November general election ballot regardless of the outcome of the primary.
Stefanik already has the Conservative Party nomination, and Doheny already has the Independence Party nomination.
The Democratic and Working Families Party candidate is Aaron Woolf, a filmmaker from Elizabethtown.
The Green Party candidate is Matt Funiciello, a bread company owner and political activist from Glens Falls.