Matt Doheny, a Republican candidate running for New York's 21st Congressional District, spoke to the Enterprise Thursday on the issues and where he stands in the race.
Doheny, 43, a businessman from Watertown, is making his third attempt to represent the district. The primary election is June 24.
Trained at Cornell University Law School, he practiced law in Syracuse, and then moved into the business field, working on Wall Street at Deutsche Bank. In 2010, he formed his own business, North Country Capital LLC, in Watertown. Doheny was raised in Alexandria Bay, a graduate of Alexandria Central Schools.
The candidate is very proud of his business background and ties to the North Country, believing these two traits give him an upper hand against the other candidates: Republican primary opponent Elise Stefanik of Willsboro and Washington D.C., Democrat Aaron Woolf of Elizabethtown and New York City, and the Green Party's Matt Funicello of Glens Falls.
"Working for myself was just an offshoot of what I've been doing for the last decade and a half," Doheny said in a phone interview. "I have the background experience. I do know what should be done. You need a businessman to solve business problems."
Doheny said he understands companies from the smaller storefronts on Main Street to the larger problems affecting the economy.
"Each part of the North Country has their own sets of opportunities and strengths," he said. "When you're in Plattsburgh, you're essentially a suburb of Montreal. ... In Saranac Lake and the Tri-Lakes, you certainly have recreation and the Olympic experience that you can built on."
When asked about the most important issue affecting the North Country, Doheny said jobs and the economy.
"If I am fortunate enough to go to Washington, I'll be the point person to help recruit businesses," he said.
Doheny considers himself a front runner in the primary race against Stefanik, citing a recent poll where he handily beat his opponent among Republican voters. The polling firm previously worked for his campaign.
Stefanik was a former staffer to president George W. Bush and held other staff positions in Washington, D.C. She was endorsed by the Republican county chairs before Doheny entered the race. Several of those county chairs expressed that the third-time candidate should step aside and let Stefanik run unopposed for Congress.
Doheny outraised Stefanik and Woolf this quarter. Doheny had $291,667 in campaign donations, compared to Woolf's $217,184 and Stefanik's $157,592.
Rhetoric between the Doheny and Stefanik campaign has begun to heat up recently with the two campaigns taking shots at each other over petition signatures. Doheny is now more direct, calling Stefanik a "Washington insider.
"Sending somebody from Washington (D.C.) to fix Washington (D.C.) makes no sense," he said. "When we talk about the race, I want people to understand I'm a businessman that lives here."
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, in a recent press release, attacked Doheny for accepting campaign contributions in 2012 from the political action committee of Rep. Michael Grimm.
Grimm, a Republican from Staten Island was arrested recently on federal criminal charges.
"It's a silly charge," Doheny said of the DCCC's press release.
Budget and taxes
Doheny has signed the Americans for Tax Reform's Taxpayer Protection Pledge, promising not to raise taxes.
He is also against increasing the federal deficit, which currently is $17 trillion.
"We balance a budget every year, and that seems to be a foreign concept in Washington," he said. "Honestly, it's grown under Democrats and Republicans, and we have to stop it."
GOP role models
When asked about fellow Republicans he admired, Doheny said he looked up to President Ronald Reagan.
"I grew up watching Ronald Reagan on TV every night," Doheny said. "I'm a Reagan Republican."
Doheny also thought very highly of former Republican Congressman David Martin. Martin was elected in 1980, serving six terms before retiring.
"He was a great man," Doheny said of Martin. "He was instrumental in bringing Fort Drum to the North Country."
Doheny believes the minimum wage should be left at the state level and stated he thought New York's minimum wage was increasing high enough already. The minimum wage in New York is currently $8 and will go to $9 on Dec. 31, 2015. He also said he believes jobs would be lost if it continues to increase, citing a Congressional Budget Office study.
"A lot of it just becomes politics in the sense that people want to raise money for their own re-election efforts," Doheny said. "As a businessman, that's what makes me sick about Congress."
The Federal Reserve recently tapered its bond purchases, cutting back from $45 million a month to $40 million a month. Doheny said they are still printing money at record levels and he worries about inflation.
"The Federal Reserve continues to print more money and we have out of control money printing," Doheny said. "That inflation could truly impact our families in the North Country."
Doheny said America needs to be strong, but that it does not have to be present around the world.
"America has to stop being the world policeman," he said. "We've gone into too many foreign entanglements."
Doheny was also reluctant of red lines being drawn by members of Congress.
On immigration and border security, Doheny said he is not in favor of amnesty and believes firmly in the current process.
"We did try amnesty and it didn't go so well," he said.
Doheny said he lived close to the Canadian border and understands security concerns.
Doheny said he is against the current domestic spy program run by the National Security Agency, uncovered by whistleblower Edward Snowden last summer.
"There's always a balance between security and privacy but I think we've gone to far," Doheny said. "NSA spying on an American citizen, I'm against that. I think we have to end the practice."