A few hours ago, I called Lewis County Legislator Paul Stanford, D-Watson, to ask if anything unusual happened at the groundbreaking ceremony for Lewis County General Hospital's new dialysis center.
After some hemming and hawing about on or off the record, Mr. Stanford said this:
"I don’t know what the hell Matt Doheny was doing there."
Mr. Stanford wasn't alone in wondering about the presence of Mr. Doheny, a Republican of Watertown who is running for, but does not currently represent, the 21st Congressional District.
It wasn't just that he was there; as you can see in the attached photograph, he had a shovel and a hardhat on. Other people in the grip-and-grin photo op include elected officials, donors, and people affected by kidney disease. Ground-breaking photos are usually an incumbent prerogative.
"I have been and always will be a strong supporter of Lewis County General Hospital, the county's largest employer. I made it a priority to attend the event and celebrate the beginning of the renal dialysis center," Mr. Doheny said in an emailed statement. (He has donated to the hospital in the past, but not for this particular effort.)
That wasn't good enough for Mr. Stanford, who said that because Mr. Doheny wasn't an elected official or involved in the construction of the new dialysis center, he didn't deserve the photo-op recognition. Mr. Doheny will run against Rep. Bill Owens, D-Plattsburgh, in the Nov. 6 election. Mr. Owens was not at the event.
"I don't know why he had the shovel when he did literally nothing," Mr. Stanford said. "It’s not putting him down because he’s running and I’m a Democrat. I’m just saying, he did not have a spot there. It was stupid. I have to say it."