Politics and Elections

June 14, 2014

Congressional primary candidates square off again

GOP candidates weigh in on regional issues

PLATTSBURGH — The second and final debate in the Republican primary battle for the 21st Congressional District seat flared up a little, but there was no volcanic eruption.

Matt Doheny and Elise Stefanik actually agreed on many issues.

But the matter of the Tarnished Assets Relief Program of 2008, known as "the bailout," brought some tension in the debate, which was taped at WWNY in Watertown on Thursday afternoon.

Doheny, 43, reminded Stefanik, 29, that she was working for the administration of George W. Bush in Washington, D.C., in 2008 when the bailout was initiated and accused her of being a hypocrite now for speaking out against it.

"She was there when it happened," Doheny said, adding that he opposes bailouts because they are contrary to the U.S. Constitution and violate "every notion of fairness in our country."

Stefanik said she opposes bailouts because they don't help small businesses like her family's plywood wholesale business.

"We are not a Wall Street company; we are a Main Street company," she said.

She reminded Doheny that when the recession hit in 2008, he was working on Wall Street, which was a big culprit in the downturn of the economy.

When she interrupted him during his answer, host Brian Ashley stepped in and allowed Doheny to continue.

Doheny referred to Stefanik's switch on bailouts as "D.C. doublespeak."


For the rest of the hour-long debate, both candidates agreed on most issues, including the repeal of the Affordable Health Care Act, support for Fort Drum and more help for rural hospitals.

They differ on the idea of a $6 billion "rooftop highway" across northern New York, which has been talked about for half a century.

Stefanik said it is too expensive and that the nation should be investing in repairing the crumbling infrastructure it already has.

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