WATERTOWN — Matt Doheny has endorsed Elise Stefanik in the race for New York’s 21st Congressional District.
Speaking to reporters outside of his Watertown office on Friday morning, Doheny encouraged his supporters to “give Elise a chance,” according to the Watertown Daily Times.
The former candidate said he would make himself to available to the campaign in any way it feels is appropriate, reported the Times.
Doheny’s announcement came after a month-long retreat from the public eye since losing the primary on June 24 to Stefanik, a former Bush aide and small businesswoman who lives in Willsboro.
Stefanik thanked Doheny in a statement following Doheny’s endorsement.
“Matt waged a hard-fought primary and we respect and appreciate his decision to give Republicans their best opportunity to win back our seat for the North Country,” she said. “Now is the time to unite not just Republicans, but members of the Independence Party and Democrats interested in bringing new ideas and a new generation of leadership to Washington on behalf of New York’s 21st Congressional District."
Stefanik won all 12 counties in June’s primary — some by single-digits once absentee ballots were tallied — with about 15 percent of the Republican electorate handing her 61 percent of the vote.
The announcement ended speculation that Doheny would pursue a path forward using the Independence Party ballot line he secured earlier this spring, an option that observers said would have made a Republican pick-up of the seat, which has been held by Democrat Bill Owens since 2009, less likely.
Doheny’s announcement caught Essex County Republican Vice Chair Win Belanger, a Willsboro-based advisor to Stefanik, off-guard. He told the Valley News earlier that morning that he didn’t anticipate an endorsement.
“Elise is here in Willsboro now and we haven’t heard anything,” he said.
"It was very gracious,” said Chairman Ron Jackson after the announcement. “It must have been a very emotional thing for him.”