TUPPER LAKE - In a one-two punch to recently crowned Republican candidate Elise Stefanik, Paul Maroun said he may run for Congress, if Matt Doheny doesn't - but now Doheny says he will.
Doheny announced this morning that he will seek the Republican, Independence and Conservative party lines for New York's 21st Congressional District. He was the Republican nominee for Congress in 2010 and 2012 versus Rep. Bill Owens.
"I was honored that more than 120,000 voters chose me to represent them during the last election," the Watertown businessman wrote in a press release. "Many told me they appreciated my real world experience in tackling tough problems and working together with competing interests to find common ground. That approach and real world experience is sorely needed in a Congress too full of career insiders."
Doheny, 43, received a law degree at Cornell University. After practicing law in Syracuse, he moved into the business world, managing banks working for Deutche Bank and then forming his own business, North Country Capital LLC, based in Watertown. Doheny said his business experience is a political asset in that it taught him how to turn around troubled businesses.
"I've made a career out of finding ways to create growth opportunities, turn troubled companies around, balance budgets and protect American jobs," Doheny wrote. "I want to apply that expertise to the problems facing Congress, while helping my community - the North Country, Adirondacks and Capital Region - attract good-paying jobs that are vital in the 21st century economy."
Franklin County Republican Chairman Ray Scollin, of Saranac Lake, had some sharp words for newcomers to the race.
"Political opportunists are unfortunately a dime a dozen, while principled, energetic representatives are few and far between," Scollin wrote. "I believe we could do with a little more earnest enthusiasm, and a little less ambulance chasing."
He added that Stefanik has put in the time from the start, when Owens still planned to run, and she has key endorsements.
"When incumbent Bill Owens was still in the race, Stefanik was doing the hard work of earning the support of grassroots Republicans, town and county committees, local business leaders and elected officials throughout the district," Scollin wrote. "This is the hard work we expect from our future representatives in Washington.
Bob Honold, an advisor for Doheny, said Doheny has the "experience and leadership needed for Congress."
"Matt Doheny is best suited to meet the needs of this area," he said. "There are too many insiders and not enough real world experience."
Despite what Scollin said, Honold said Doheny has been called on to lead by grassroots Republicans in the North Country.
"He may have missed a number of newspaper articles calling Doheny to join the race," Honold said. "They're calling for a mature, seasoned person to join."
The Watertown Daily Times ran an editorial on Thursday urging Doheny to run.
Maroun, who is a Franklin County legislator and mayor of Tupper Lake, told the Enterprise after Tuesday night's village board meeting that he was seriously considering a run for the 21st Congressional District seat.
"We have had great Congress people who have lived in the district all their lives," Maroun said. "These two candidates now have never even lived in the district. I'm concerned. It's been gnawing at me, like a toothache."
Maroun said he has never met Stefanik before but said he wasn't convinced that she knew the North Country well enough to represent it. He held the same opinion of the Democratic county chair's choice, Aaron Woolf.
"The Democrat owns a store in Brooklyn, and he has a place in Elizabethtown," Maroun said. "You and I both know he doesn't live here. Now I don't know about Elise, but I don't think she's actually lived in this district. She isn't even registered to vote here."
Woolf was unanimously endorsed by the Democratic county chairs on Feb. 12 to represent their party in New York's 21st Congressional District. He refused to answer questions after the meeting in Long Lake.
Stefanik, who has been a staffer for President George W. Bush and Rep. Paul Ryan, now lives in Willsboro, but longtime Willsboro Supervisor Teresa Sayward said she doesn't know her, Lake George Mirror Editor and Publisher Tony Hall wrote on the Adirondack Almanac website. Stefanik said she welcomes newcomers to the race.
"I welcome the new candidates to this race and look forward to a robust discussion on the issues." Stefanik wrote in a press release.
She added that her campaign has the best oppurtunity to win, because of the time and effort they put in to the race.
"Over the past year, I have crisscrossed the district and worked hard to build grassroots support." she said. "I am honored by the support and momentum my campaign has earned from Republicans, Conservatives, and Independents. Our campaign will continue to make the case that we have the best opportunity to win back this seat this Fall and provide new representation and new ideas to Congress on behalf of Upstate New York."
Maroun called himself a conservative Republican who has made some progressive choices, and said he knows what people in the 21st District want. He said Doheny also knows what people in the district want, and vowed to withdraw his bid consideration if Doheny ran.
That announcement was released early this morning, and Maroun held true to his word.
"I'm a little surprised he moved so quickly, but like I said, if Matt Doheny decides to run, I will not," Maroun said. "I have supported Doheny in his last two bids. Matt Doheny is the candidate that I think has the name recognition, he's been through the mill twice now, knows what it is to travel this district and knows the issues. I will be supporting his candidacy."