Members of the Conservative Party's executive committee endorsed Elise Stefanik, Republican candidate for New York 21st Congressional District, Friday afternoon.
The decision gave Stefanik from Willsboro the party's ballot line for the general election. She has also been endorsed by a majority of the Republican county chairs in the district.
Chairman Michael Long said the support was overwhelmingly in Stefanik's favor. Republican Matt Doheny, a two-time Congress candidate from Watertown, secured only two out of 19 of the party's votes.
Elise Stefanik marches in the 2014 Saranac Lake Winter Carnival parade.
(Enterprise photo — Peter Crowley)
"The bottom line," Long said. "Everyone felt Matt had his turn."
Long wasn't a part of the vote, as the chairman, but he agreed with the decision saying he supports Stefanik "without a doubt."
"I'm honored and humbled that after such thoughtful consideration, the New York State Conservative Party Executive Committee has entrusted their faith in me to win back New York's 21st District this November," Stefanik wrote in a press release. "As a principled conservative, I understand that we cannot win back the North Country as Republicans without the help and support of the Conservative Party."
Asked if the decision was related to the candidates' conservative credentials, Long said it wasn't.
"This was not an anti-Matt vote," he said. "This was an overwhelming pro-Elise vote."
Long said the decision had more to do with Stefanik bringing a "fresh face" and "energy" to the race.
"She's well-rounded on issues and has an understanding of pro-growth policies," Long said. "They're excited about what they see."
Doheny wrote in a press release that he was disappointed with the decision.
"As conservatives we are engaged in a pitched battle against the Obama-de Blasio ideology that disenfranchises individual freedom and liberty in favor of Big Brother knows best," Doheny wrote in a press release. "Our very way of life as Americans and New Yorkers is at stake in this debate. That's why today's decision by the State Conservative Executive Committee, to ignore the will of almost 20% of North Country conservatives, is all the more shocking."
Doheny recently submitted 1,025 Conservative Party signatures and Stefanik garnered "more than 700" Conservative Party signatures to the Board of Elections, according to their campaigns.
Doheny's spokesman, David Catalfamo, said the decision was sad.
"1 out of every 5 conservatives in the district signed a petition for Matt," Catalfamo wrote by email. "The fact is a bunch of party insiders who couldn't find Saranac Lake on a map thwarted the will of the people."
Stefanik plans to unify both of the parties so she can win this fall.
"I am committed to personally reaching out to registered Conservatives and Conservative Party leaders across the North Country to encourage them to be an integral part of our team," she wrote.