Elise M. Stefanik’s one-sided trouncing of Republican rival Matthew A. Doheny was met with some surprise by party leadership Tuesday night.
“I’m a little surprised about the size of the gap,” said Lewis County Republican Chairman Michael F. Young.
He attributed some of her win to her ability to be a new face for voters. The financial support from outside groups such as American Crossroads also helped her keep her message upbeat.
“Usually you leave the dirty work to somebody else. She didn’t soil her hands,” Mr. Young said. “Good political move.”
He predicted voters in the future would not hold the outside groups’ attacks against her.
Looking toward the general election in November, Mr. Young said Ms. Stefanik was in a good position.
“She has a message that resonates with voters, and I think she’ll do very well,” he said.
Another key for Ms. Stefanik, St. Lawrence GOP Committee Chairman Thomas L. Jenison said, was her extensive campaigning before Mr. Doheny entered the race.
“She had to overcome the name recognition,” he said. “Clearly she’s done that. People came out to vote.”
The heavy support for Ms. Stefanik on the eastern side of the district, he said, made the outcome “a numbers game in her favor.”
At a party in Watertown for Mr. Doheny at the Best Western hotel, Jefferson County Republican Committee chairman Donald G.M. Coon linked the result to voters’ desire for a new candidate, and the power of outside funding.
“Money equals speech, there’s no doubt about it,” he said.
The Jefferson County committee was the only one of the 12 in the district to not initially endorse Ms. Stefanik, a decision Mr. Coon said was made with the intent to let voters choose their own candidate.
With Ms. Stefanik’s win, he said, the committee and county Republicans were “going to rally around” her.