Voters in the newly drawn 21st Congressional District will choose between two candidates to challenge U.S. Rep.Bill Owens, D-Plattsburgh, in a June primary election.
The two challengers are Matt Doheny and Kellie Greene, both trying to win the Republican nomination. They will face each other in a primary on June 26. The winner of the primary will be on the Nov.6 ballot against incumbent Owens.
The new 21st Congressional District was formerly the 23rd Congressional District. The change comes from redistricting mandated by the Constitution to reflect population shifts found in the 2010 Census.
The old 23rd Congressional District included Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Fulton, Hamilton, Jefferson, Lewis, Madison, Oswego and St. Lawrence Counties. For voter registration, 42 percent — or 166,826 — were Republicans and 31 percent — or 122,669 — were Democrats.
The new 21st Congressional District includes Lewis, Jefferson, St. Lawrence, Franklin, Clinton, Hamilton Counties and portions of Oneida, Fulton and Essex Counties. For voter registration, the gap between Democrats and Republicans has shrunk. Now the voter registration is 40 percent – – or 158,551 — registered as Republicans and 33 percent — or 128,945 — are Democrats.
Incumbents typically have an advantage over challengers, said Syracuse University political scientist Kristi Andersen. But the slight Republican advantage means, she said, “Owens might have a challenging re-election.”
Here is an early look of the two candidates vying for the Republican nomination:
Kellie Greene (Republican, challenger)
Greene is a new face competing for the Republican nomination. She has not run for election in New York, but has described herself as a Republican activist in Arizona, where she lived before moving back to her hometown of Sackets Harbor.
Greene declined interview requests for this story.
Greene was born and raised in Oswego where her mother, a retired school teacher, and family still live, according to her campaign website. Her late father was in the Air Force.
Greene has an associate’s degree in accounting and business from Bay Path College, a bachelor’s of science degree in logistics management from Syracuse University and a master’s degree in business administration in international business from Rochester Institute of Technology. In June, she will be completing her master’s in theology from Fuller Theological Seminary, according to her website.
For eight years, Greene lived in Arizona where, her website says, she was a GOP activist. In October, she moved to Sackets Harbor and decided to run for the 21st Congressional District seat.
On her website, she describes her career as working as an independent consultant for global trade and management, in particular with manufacturing companies for the past eight years. This gives her expertise on issues facing the nation, Greene said on her website.
Matt Doheny (Republican, challenger)
This year’s election will be different, because he is hoping to have three key nominations, said Doheny. “I will be the Republican, Independence, and Conservative Party nominee,” said Doheny. “The Conservative Party held almost 11,000 votes and I lost by only 1,900 votes. So having all three nominations will be a huge difference.”
Doheny was born and raised in the North Country where he graduated high school from Alexandria Bay. After high school, he earned a bachelor’s degree from Allegheny College and graduated with a law degree from Cornell University.
After practicing law for a few years in Syracuse, he decided to changed paths and become a business man. In 2010 started his own firm, North Country Capital. His company lends money to entrepreneurs to help start businesses and also provides working capital for growing companies.
For fundraising, as of April 14 Doheny has raised a total of $341, 223 for his campaign, according to campaign finance reports with the Federal Election Commission. He is hoping to raise at least $1.5 million, he said. “We need to get to that $1.5 million to $2-million mark so we can go blow-for-blow, hand-to-hand combat with a sitting member of Congress,” said Doheny.
He is pitching his business experience as a qualification for Congress, especially in a weak economy. “Congress needs more businessmen,” Doheny said, who understand how our economy works and how we can reverse the current crisis of confidence that Americans feel.”
(Amanda Watkins is a graduate student in broadcast and digital journalism.)