By BENNY FAIRCHILD
MASSENA - Campaigns for the two candidates running for the Republican line in Tuesday’s painted different pictures based on poll results released Friday in the 21st Congressional District.
The bottom line is that a race featuring candidates from the eastern and western corners of an expansive district that stretches from Saratoga County to Watertown could be decided in towns and villages like Massena.
And Massena’s highest elected Republican elected officials - whose offices are located at opposite ends of the Massena Town Hall - are supporting different candidates in the primary.
While Mayor James F. Hidy supports Matthew Doheny, Town Supervisor Joseph D. Gray is backing Elise Stefanik.
“Matt is a north country boy,” Mr. Hidy said. “He knows the issues that economically affect the north country. What better person can we have representing us in Congress than Matt? I believe he can help us on these issues.”
Mr. Hidy said he’s been a supporter of Mr. Doheny since day one, dating back to his first time on the ballot., Mr. Hidy also said he feels like it is time to have a representative from the area and familiar with the unique issues the north country is facing.
“Far too often, the people that are representing us at the federal level are people who are not familiar with the issues facing the north country,” he said. “I think Matt is the right man for the job.”
Mr. Gray, a former chairman of the St. Lawrence County Republican Committee, acknowledged supporting Mr. Doheny in the past, but he said this time around he is in Ms. Stefanik’s corner.
“She is smart. She is creative, and she is very articulate. The thing I like about her is I get the impression she is willing to work cooperatively with people in Washington, regardless of their party affiliation,” he said.
“I’m one of the millions of people who believe Washington is broken and I believe that is because of the immature refusal of both houses of Congress to work together.”
When asked why he thought Ms. Stefanik was the candidate who was better for Massena, Mr. Gray said he hasn’t looked at the race from that perspective.
“I’ve looked at it from a broader perspective,” he said, adding in his mind her gender is a positive.
“At the risk of sounding sexist, men and women take a different approach to solving problems and there are too many men in Congress now - especially in power positions,” he said.
“Although I don’t agree with every woman in Congress and there are women in Congress now that I don’t think should be there, I think it would be good to have a bright, young woman representing the 21st in Congress,” the Massena town supervisor noted.
Mr. Gray said his support for Ms. Stefanik is nothing personal against Mr. Doheny, but since the Alex Bay native has run and lost in the past he would have liked to have seen a new message this time around.
“I like Matt Doheny. I know him and I consider him a friend,” he said. “I supported him during his previous attempts, but I haven’t heard anything new from him.”
Polls for Tuesday’s primary will be open across the county from noon to 9 p.m. Voting in Tuesday’s election is limited to registered Republicans only.