GLENS FALLS — Matt Funiciello, the Green Party’s candidate for Congress, formally announced his candidacy to replace retiring Congressman Bill Owens (D-Plattsburgh) at the Rock Hill Bakehouse, the bakery he owns and manages in Glens Falls, on Wednesday, May 7.
Nearly 100 voters came to hear the candidate speak.
“The kickoff showed just how fed up people in the district are with the false divide in politics,” said Funiciello in a written statement. “They are tired of sending representatives to Washington who are funded by, and represent, big corporate interests.”
The major political parties, said Funiciello, only exist to represent the elite.
“I don’t understand why anyone would vote for either of them if they self-identify with workers,” he later told the Valley News in a phone interview. “What good has having a Democratic or Republican representative done for you in your lifetime? That’s not a conservative or liberal issue — that’s just common sense and I want to bring that Adirondack viewpoint to the House.”
At the event, Funiciello reiterated his platform, which includes single-payer health care, building local jobs at living wages, cutting defense spending and making sure corporations “pay their fair share.”
Funiciello said these are all “majoritarian issues” supported by the American public and that he was disappointed that the Green Party would not see a primary following Don Hassig’s removal from the ballot last month.
“We’re all a little disappointed because this would have been a great platform to discuss the issues,” he said.
In response to those who may curdle at the very mention of the Green Party and the public pillorying of Ralph Nader following his 2000 presidential campaign that some believe siphoned away votes away from progressives and handed the election to George W. Bush, Funiciello called it a non-issue.
“It’s propaganda,” he said. “Al Gore lost because he was a terrible candidate. Nader lost because he didn’t take any corporate money. I would ask the Democrats to clean up their house before attacking Nader.”
Funiciello had previously told the Valley News he didn’t walk in lockstep with the Green Party on every issue — and in fact, also shared a sliver of the ideological spectrum with libertarians who lobbied against police brutality and excessive government regulation — and was aligning with them, in part, to combat what he sees as a creeping corporate influence in politics and was optimistic that ample common ground could be covered.
“We’re going to work hard and muddy our hands as citizens to affect change,” he said. “But it can be done with love and care for our district and the country.”
FIVE WEEKS UNTIL REPUBLICAN PRIMARY
Funiciello’s launch came during a week that saw the internecine fight between the GOP grow increasingly bitter in the run-up to the primary election on June 24.
Matt Doheny, an investment fund manager from Watertown, flogged fellow Republican hopeful Elise Stefanik for her failure to sign a pair of pledges.
One was the Taxpayer Protection Pledge from Americans for Tax Reform, an anti-tax group helmed by Grover Norquist, a kingmaker in Republican politics whose star has faded in recent years.
Doheny also blasted Stefanik, the Willsboro-based candidate, for her refusal to sign a pledge by an outside group to repeal the SAFE Act, the controversial law that was passed by the state legislature, and signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo, in the aftermath of the Newtown incident.
“Unfortunately, North Country voters have seen this movie before — ambitious Washington insider who claims to be a lifelong gun owner, flip-flops when outside political groups bring pressure,” said Doheny in a written statement. “Words are not enough, law abiding gun owners have been betrayed before.”
Despite the Doheny campaign’s strong push on social media and via written statements denouncing Stefanik for her refusal to sign the pledge, the campaign did not publicly draw attention to the fact that the implementation of the SAFE Act is a state issue — not a federal one — and criticizing Stefanik for her refusal to sign the pledge may come across as disingenuous to voters in the gun-heavy district.
“Where was Doheny on the SAFE Act when it mattered,” combated the Stefanik campaign in a written statement that cited the forums she attended to facilitate discussion on the issue that Doheny did not attend.
And on taxes:
“As I’ve made very clear to the voters of this district over the course of the campaign, I have pledged that I will not vote to raise taxes,” said Stefanik in a written statement, citing her background in small business.
“I will only make one pledge during the course of my campaign and that pledge is to you, the people of this district,” Stefanik continued. “Unlike other candidates in this race, I will not sign a pledge from any Washington DC based special interest group. Our district deserves an independent representative who will challenge the failed status quo of Washington, not make pledges to it.”
“Matt Doheny is getting increasingly desparate and angry in his craven bid to win office,” said campaign spokeswoman Charlotte Guyett. “He is stridently attacking a strong, young intelligent woman who has run a positive campaign.”
On Tuesday, May 13, Stefanik announced a series of endorsements from the Essex County Board of Supervisors.
All 13 of the Republican lawmakers — including one independent — endorsed her candidacy, making it a clean sweep along party lines.
Four other supervisors — Board Chairman Randall Douglas, Gerald Morrow, Stephen McNally and Daniel Connell — have not publicly endorsed a candidate in the race.
“I’m incredibly humbled in their support of my candidacy,” said Stefanik.
In 2012, the Republican supervisors threw their weight behind Doheny.
As for the Democrats, Macomb town board member Steven Burke lost his appeal to the state supreme court in Albany on Thursday, May 8, leaving Elizabethtown resident Aaron Woolf cruising unopposed as he prepares for November’s general election.
“I am troubled that Matt Doheny and Elise Stefanik are focused on publicity gimmicks to address our economy instead of addressing whether or not they plan to join the vast majority of the Republicans in Congress in supporting the Ryan budget,” said Woolf in an email to the Valley News, referring to the non-binding plan issued by the House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan that seeks to balance the federal budget with deep cuts in social programs, including health care for the poor and student loans.
“Paul Ryan’s plan would end the Medicare guarantee, raise taxes on middle class families, slash education and threaten our region’s economic future. We need to work together to find responsible solutions that grow our middle class and create more jobs.”