Businessman Matt Doheny of Watertown dropped out of the 21st Congressional District race Friday and endorsed his former Republican opponent, Elise Stefanik.
Doheny lost to Stefanik in a sometimes-bitter campaign leading to the June 24 GOP primary, but could have continued campaigning into the November election using the Independence Party ballot line, which he secured earlier this year. Until Friday, he had not said what his intentions were.
Doheny’s decision to not campaign and instead endorse Stefanik may bring Republicans together behind Stefanik. If he had campaigned, it would probably have siphoned votes from a fellow political conservative.
Stefanik lives in Willsboro and is a former George W. Bush administration White House staffer. She is also backed by the Conservative Party. Stefanik, who at age 30 could become the youngest member of Congress, thanked Doheny for the support.
“Now is the time to unite to win back #NY21 & bring new ideas & new leadership to Washington,” she said on Twitter.
Aaron Woolf of Elizabethtown is the Democratic candidate in the race to succeed Democrat Bill Owens of Plattsburgh, who decided not to seek re-election. Doheny had been the unsuccessful Republican candidate against Owens in both 2010 and 2012.
Green Party candidate Matt Funicello of Glens Falls is also in the race.
National political analysts consider the race a toss-up, though Republicans have an overall enrollment advantage in the district, with 181,832 Republicans to 127,262 Democrats, according to the state Board of Elections.
“Throughout his career, Matt Doheny has always done what is best for the North Country,” said National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Greg Walden. “Today he continued to do so by helping to ensure that Republican Elise Stefanik will be able to fight for North Country families in Congress.”
The 21st Congressional District covers a mostly rural area including all or parts of 12 counties from Saratoga and Fulton counties north to the Canadian border.