Stefanik defeats Doheny

Former Washington political staffer Elise Stefanik rode strong backing from national conservative groups to defeat self-funded businessman Matthew Doheny in Tuesday’s Republican primary for the 21st congressional seat.

According to unofficial tallies from the New York State Board of Elections, Stefanik received 15,116 votes to Doheny’s 9,621 in the 12-county district, which includes Fulton and Hamilton counties.

“This was a resounding victory for Elise and her ideals,” Phil Musser, a Stefanik consultant, said this morning.

Stefanik 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, will not seek re-election.

“I will work very hard to build the bridges so Republicans are united as we head into this November,” Stefanik said Tuesday night. “Republican voters have spoken tonight and honored us with the opportunity to make the case that Washington is broken and in need of new ideas and new leadership.”

Sue McNeil, Fulton County Republican Committee chairwoman, said this morning she is ecstatic about Stefanik’s victory.

“She was the best candidate,” McNeil said.

McNeil said Stefanik challenged the issues rather than the character of Doheny.

Fulton County Republican voters chose Stefanik, giving her 70 percent of the vote. Doheny received 29 percent of the vote in the county. In Hamilton County, both candidates received about 49 percent of the vote, according to the state Board of Elections.

Stefanik, 29, an Essex County resident, is a Harvard University graduate who worked on President George W. Bush’s staff and the national campaigns of former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Rep. Paul Ryan. She had said she would seek the nomination and gathered support among county committees all before incumbent Owens made a surprise announcement not to seek re-election.

Then Doheny, a Cornell-trained lawyer and investment manager who narrowly lost in 2010 and 2012 to Owens in what had been a Republican stronghold for years, announced another bid for what is now the 21st District. It sprawls from Lake Ontario near Watertown across to the Vermont border and south through the Adirondacks to the outskirts of Saratoga Springs.

Federal campaign finance filings showed Doheny with little money on hand after pouring almost $600,000 into this race. Stefanik had about $180,000 on hand after raising $660,000 and spending almost $475,000.

But the big spending was a more than $770,000 barrage of mailings and advertising from Karl Rove’s American Crossroads attacking Doheny.

Each candidate has another minor party ballot line, raising the possibility Doheny will continue in the race against Stefanik and Democratic nominee Aaron Woolf, a documentary filmmaker and political novice. He said in his concession speech Tuesday he will reevaluate his position today.

Campaign records showed Woolf has raised more than $580,000 and has $377,000 on hand.

The Green Party candidate is Matt Funiciello, who owns a bread company in Glens Falls.

Leader-Herald reporter Arthur Cleveland, the Adirondack Daily Enterprise and the AP contributed to this report.