The best thing about Tuesday’s Republican primary is that voters have a choice.
We’re big proponents of competition, of debating the issues in the great Lincoln-Douglas tradition and letting the voters go along for the ride.
Unfortunately, the showdown between underfunded unknown Kellie Greene of Sackets Harbor and the well-heeled Republican party favorite Matt Doheny of Watertown has never really materialized.
It all comes down to the dollars. That’s the reality in this day and age of big-time campaign fundraising.
Doheny, a millionaire several times over, has approximately $500,000 in his war chest while Greene has about $3,000 and a lot of personal credit card debt.
Despite that financial advantage, we urge voters to look deeper at both candidates.
At the very least, Ms. Greene has brought some refreshing candor to the process of how the Republican Party chooses a candidate for Congress.
To her credit, Ms. Greene has fought on with very little support, much to the consternation of the party. Neither Democrats nor Republicans like wasting valuable campaign funds debating among themselves, and in these parts, renegade candidates are not only discouraged from primary battles, but often ostracized if they battle to the end. Local parties would much rather hand-pick their candidates and save their money to debate their November opponent.
That certainly appears to be the case here, as Ms. Greene was treated like an obnoxious wedding crasher not welcome at the party. Only three county committees even bothered to extend an invitation to hear her speak.
The party chairmen say Ms. Greene was late to the game and they did not think she was serious about making the commitment.
They were wrong.
Not only did Greene refuse to back down, she didn’t hesitate to stand up to the backroom politics.
“Hey, this is my party, too,” she said at one point to our editorial board. “I am from among the people.”
Despite her lack of funding, Ms. Greene has battled on and makes a case that she is the true conservative in the race.
Granted, she is a flawed candidate with little political experience, less money and a resume best described as diverse. She has multiple college degrees and just graduated from divinity school, yet her career path has taken her in divergent directions and it is not clear what she will do next.
She has definitely broken the usual mold for a congressional candidate. She is neither a lawyer nor a businessperson, and insists this is to her benefit, sarcastically commenting, “How is that working out for you?”
She has a point.
Our editorial board found her to be enthusiastic, committed and running for all the right reasons as a true conservative.
We have no illusions about Ms. Greene’s chances Tuesday. She is a long shot at best, but we believe the Republican hierarchy missed out on a chance of grooming her for some future role in the party. She has a passion for service and great ideas that need further exploration.
Her experience in business logistics provided her with a refreshing vision for upstate New York commerce and how we can tap into world markets through the ports in Ogdensburg and Oswego. It is not a vision we hear much about in the eastern part of the state, but we thought it had far more potential than most of the economic schemes we usually hear involving bullet trains.
Mr. Doheny, who lost a heartbreaking election to U.S. Bill Owens by 2,000 votes two years ago, also has never been elected to any public office, but his success in business gives him credible insights into the economy and how struggling companies in the North Country can remain viable.
His proclamation to be the “Salesman-in-Chief” for his district was a rallying cry the district desperately needs in Washington.
Our editorial board did have concerns about Mr. Doheny’s past indiscretions, including two boating while intoxicated tickets in 2004 and a Washington, D.C., video this past spring we are sure got him into plenty of hot water with his fiancee.
To his credit, Mr. Doheny addressed both issues with our board, admitted to poor judgment in the BWI incidents and a pledge to his fiancee he would never put himself into a compromising situation like the one on the video.
About the worst thing Ms. Greene would say about Mr. Doheny was he was really a “moderate” and not a true conservative.
But we find moderation an attractive characteristic in any candidate these days, especially in a log-jammmed Congress where polar opposites are commonplace and little work is being done.
We peppered Mr. Doheny with plenty of questions about how he could fix the economy. We pointed out the Congressional Budget Office had advised it would take a combination of strategies — raising taxes, reducing entitlements and cutting expenses — to make a budget work. We asked Mr. Doheny if he would be willing to compromise on those issues and work with the other party to get the job done.
He said he would.
But when we reminded him he had signed Grover Norquist’s “Taxpayer Protection Pledge” to never raise taxes under any circumstances, he retreated and said he was really against all new taxes.
Still, Mr. Doheny appears to have the greater handle on the issues that confront the diverse businesses and industries in the 21st District.
He has worked in the global marketplace and made a fortune by starting his own company to help troubled businesses. That seems a perfect recipe for anyone contemplating a term in Congress.
Matt Doheny is seasoned after a tough campaign defeat against Bill Owens two years ago and he gives Republicans the best chance to win back the North Country seat.
Local editorials represent the opinion of The Post-Star editorial board, which consists of Publisher Rick Emanuel, Editor Ken Tingley and citizen representative Jody Chwiecko.