Candidates putting focus on jobs

Jobs are a primary issue in the 2014 Republican primary race between Elise Stefanik and Matt Doheny.

The two will face off in Tuesday’s primary election in the 21st Congressional District, which includes Fulton and Hamilton counties, among others in northern New York.

“We really have the great conditions that can go ahead and kick-start a renaissance in the private sector,” said Doheny, who is making his third attempt to win the congressional seat.

“We’ve seen too many young people leave this part of New York state for lack of jobs,” Stefanik said.

The winner of the primary will face Democrat Aaron Woolf, of Essex County and Manhattan, in the November election.

U.S. Rep. Bill Owens, a Democrat who currently holds the seat, previously announced he would not seek re-election, citing a need to be with his family.

Doheny, 43, a Watertown resident and father of one, owns and operates North Country Capital, handling consulting work. He serves on the Board of Directors of companies such as Yellow Trucking and Kodak.

Born in Jefferson County, Doheny is a former attorney and has taught finance and business courses at Clarkson University and Jefferson Community College.

Doheny said his primary goal as a congressman would be to create jobs in upstate New York.

Doheny said the primary concern he’s heard from voters in the district has been the need for jobs.

Doheny said he would focus on the region’s assets, such as the work force and proximity to Albany.

“We are going to focus on our [region’s] comparative and competitive strengths,” Doheny said.

Doheny stressed his personal experience with running a business would help to attract businesses to the region.

“We need to go ahead and put our best foot forward,” Doheny said.

Doheny also is calling for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

Doheny is running for the seat for a third time. He ran unsuccessfully against Owens in 2010 and 2012.

According to the Federal Election Commission, Doheny received $672,000 in contributions as of March 31.

Stefanik, 29, an Essex County resident, works at her family’s company, Premium Plywood Products, and works on public policy on the state and national levels.

A graduate of Harvard University, Stefanik served on former President George W. Bush’s Domestic Policy Council’s staff. She was director of communications for the Foreign Policy Initiative and served as U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan’s vice presidential debate prep director.

Stefanik said, if elected, she would push to create jobs and economic opportunities for small businesses in New York.

She said she would try to reform the tax code to be “flatter and fairer.”

She said she would push to repeal the Affordable Care Act and advocate for fiscal responsibility.

She wants to bring a new generation of “common sense conservatism” to Washington.

Stefanik said economic reforms are needed.

“The biggest issue that I hear is jobs and the gridlock in Washington,” Stefanik said.

“I have seen that Washington is broken firsthand,” Stefanik added.

Stefanik said she would bring a small-business focus to Washington.

Stefanik said she knows how to get things done in Washington.

As of March 31, Stefanik received $524,000 in campaign contributions, according to FEC filings.

In the campaign, both candidates have accused each other of slander and using attack ads.

Doheny said he felt the race has been personal.

He claims Stefanik, her political friends and “D.C. insiders” have aired “untrue” attack ads.

“I believe in my campaign and I believe in my cause,” Doheny said.

One ad, paid for by American Crossroads, a political-action committee founded by former White House strategist Karl Rove, accuses Doheny of violating labor laws, boating while intoxicated and failing to pay rent for a New York apartment.

Doheny’s press officer, David M. Catalfamo, said American Crossroads has done something it never did before – attack another Republican candidate.

“We called on her, asked her to call on them to take the ad down, and she has refused,” Catalfamo said.

Stefanik’s campaign has denied any connection to American Crossroads or the content of the group’s advertising.

Stefanik’s campaign claims Doheny has been the one running a negative campaign and engaging in negative attacks.

“[There is nothing] from my campaign that can be construed as negatively attacking Doheny,” Stefanik said.

The 21st Congressional District spans more than 16,000 square miles, making it one of the largest districts east of the Mississippi River. The district comprises all or part of the following 12 counties: Fulton, Hamilton, Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Jefferson, Lewis, St. Lawrence, Warren, Washington and parts of Herkimer and Saratoga.

The congressional term is for two years. The position carries a salary of $174,000.

Arthur Cleveland can be reached at