LAKE PLACID - Republican Congress candidate Matt Doheny will soon face $242,000 worth of attack ads against his run for office.
American Crossroads, a Karl Rove-backed super PAC, recently purchased TV ads that will air in the Albany, Watertown, and Plattsburgh media markets on June 3. This happens just weeks before the June 24 primary election. American Crossroads previously supported Doheny in a past election versus the retiring Rep. Bill Owens.
Doheny's Republican opponent, Elise Stefanik of Willsboro, a former staffer for President George W. Bush, is endorsed by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) and his running mate, presidential candidate Mitt Romney. She also is the Republican county chairs' choice and has the Conservative Party endorsement. Doheny has the Independence Party endorsement.
The attack ad says it would be a "big mistake" to elect Doheny. It calls him a three-time loser for Congress, although he only lost twice in general elections to Owens. The first time he ran for office in 2009, he bowed out after the Republican county chairs chose Dede Scozzafava.
The ad also charged Doheny with boating while intoxicated, which is true and is something Doheny has admitted to in the past. The ad is not officially approved by the Stefanik campaign, but they have not disapproved of its message.
Doheny said the advertisement showed Stefanik's "independence was called into question.
"My opponent, she is being supported by this super PAC; Karl Rove is putting a quarter-million behind her," Doheny told the Enterprise on Monday.
The investor from Watertown said he's independent from Washington, D.C. influences because he's the largest donor to his own campaign.
Doheny said that usually when a Republican Super PAC goes after Republican candidates it's "Tea Party versus establishment" or some other major policy difference. That's not the case, he said.
"You saw the debate, right? It's not like, 'Wow there is a big contrast,'" Doheny said. "I'm scratching my head. I ran for Congress twice and I know these people. I don't understand what's going on."
Charlotte Guyett, Stefanik's campaign press secretary, stood by the American Crossroads support.
"This group supported our opponent in the past and clearly no longer does, making this an issue for him, not us," Guyett wrote by email. "Our campaign is about the future, not the past. Questions about outside groups' tactics and strategy should be directed to them."
On the campaign trail
Doheny passed through Lake Placid and Saranac Lake on Sunday and Monday, the first time he has campaigned in the Tri-Lakes during his run for office this year. During campaign stops he called for federal funding to the state Olympic Regional Development Authority. The candidate said ORDA is one of the most important drivers of economic development to the region, yet has been ignored by the federal government since 2006.
"It's a tourist destination, and we want to make sure we have the facilities and infrastructure to attract people in this area and around the world," Doheny said.
"I will win"
Polling conducted on May 19 and 20 by Public Opinion Strategies, hired by the Doheny campaign, showed Doheny had a strong lead over Democrat Aaron Woolf, who lives in Elizabethtown and Manhattan. Doheny received 43 percent, Woolf 21 percent and Green Party candidate Matt Funiciello of Glens Falls 5 percent. The poll excluded Stefanik.
"I'm not here to win a Republican primary. I'm here to win this election. You know, I've won two primaries," Doheny said. "Not only can I win; I will win."
The Enterprise then asked why the poll excluded Stefanik.
"We didn't poll this particular time in the primary piece," Doheny said. "I know we are doing well, and the reason, as a businessman, I know we are doing well is because there is a super PAC spending $250,000 against me, and that wouldn't be happening if we weren't doing pretty well."
The Republican lawmakers on the Essex County Board of Supervisors recently endorsed Stefanik for Congress. Despite this, Doheny is confident about his chances in the region, saying he will do "really well" in the Tri-Lakes area. He currently has a local leadership team with 160 members in 12 counties.
"We have tremendous support at the local level," Doheny said. "We are going to do surprisingly well in Essex (county), and here in Franklin county we are going to do well. No question."
The candidates will meet for the second and final debate on June 12. Doheny said he looks forward to learning more about his opponent's policy positions.
"Like anything else, like sports, you look at the game film and try to improve on your performance," Doheny said. "I don't know where she stands on everything, to be perfectly blunt with you."