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Two days after declaring candidacy, Doheny drops out of state Senate race

Screenshot of a 2014 debate between Republicans Elise Stefanik and Matt Doheny. The two were opponents in the GOP primary for the 21st Congressional District seat

After declaring his candidacy for a North Country state Senate seat earlier this week, Republican Matt Doheny abruptly dropped out of the race Friday, saying in a statement that the amount of vitriol just this week has made running for the seat "impractical."

State Sen. Patty Ritchie, who has represented the Senate's 48th district since 2010, announced on Wednesday that she would retireat the end of this year. Within an hour of Ritchie's announcement, Doheny and North Country Assemblyman Mark Walczyk (R-Watertown) declared their candidacy. Walczyk was quickly endorsed by Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-Schyulerville). Doheny was quickly endorsed by Ritchie.

But by late Friday morning, Doheny said he was dropping out.

"As we are seeing across the nation, the divisiveness of politics and the lengths that people will go to ‘win’ has a lasting and significant negative impact on our national fabric," Doheny said in a statement. "When a local primary race devolves into this level of vitriol, it is not good for anyone - candidates or constituents."

Doheny appeared to be responding to Stefanik, who said in her endorsement of Walczyk, "Now is not the time for a failed three time loser who has sat on the sidelines silent for years against the failed Far-Left policies in New York.”

Doheny has run for Congress three times, narrowly losing to Democrat Bill Owens in 2010 and 2012, and lost to Stefanik in the 2014 GOP primary.

"Congresswoman Stefanik “blasted” me for being willing to put myself forward and run for office," Doheny said in his statement. "Trying and not succeeding is not weakness. I hope people take this life lesson: it is okay to try." Doheny continued, "I have never in my life sat on the sidelines. The people that live in this area know the many ways - large and small - that I am involved," he said. "From supporting many local candidates for office, to mentoring young adults, to youth coaching, to advising businesses, I work tirelessly. No one has ever challenged my work ethic."

After seeming to chastise Stefanik, Downey then praised her, along former President Donald Trump.

"In 2014, after a spirited primary, I congratulated Congresswoman Stefanik. I not only endorsed her, I removed myself from the general election ballot," he said. "More importantly, I have purposely stayed out of her limelight, and quietly supported her, especially since she became a vocal supporter of President Donald J. Trump in November 2019. For the sake of the North Country, I hope that she continues her work for the North Country, as well as the Nation.  This area desperately needs it."

That leaves Walczyk as the only Republican in the race at this point. Daniel Girard, a teacher in the Salmon River School District, announced this week he would run for the seat on the Democratic line.

Jason has served as WRVO's news director in some capacity since August 2017. As news director, Jason produces hourly newscasts, and helps direct local news coverage and special programming. Before that, Jason hosted Morning Edition on WRVO from 2009-2019. Jason came to WRVO in January of 2008 as a producer/reporter. Before that, he spent two years as an anchor/reporter at WSYR Radio in Syracuse.