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Doug Hoffman (L) and Matt Doheny (R) talk briefly before their second and final debate in Saranac Lake (Photo:  Brian Mann)
Doug Hoffman (L) and Matt Doheny (R) talk briefly before their second and final debate in Saranac Lake (Photo: Brian Mann)

NY-23: Republicans promise conservative philosophy, but offer few specifics

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In their final debate last night, Republicans Matt Doheny and Doug Hoffman both claimed to be the true conservative running for congress in the 23rd district.

The two men, who hope to unseat Democrat Bill Owens, promised to shrink big government and cut taxes.

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Brian Mann
Adirondack Bureau Chief

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"I will fight to make sure that...they do not waste your tax dollars," Hoffman said.  "I will fight to have a balanced budget."

Doheny agreed, calling Federal deficits "an outrage" and promising to be "the difference maker" in Washington.

But asked repeatedly to name deep cuts that might affect government programs and services here in the North Country, both men declined to offer any details. Hoffman and Doheny suggested that the actual leadership in cutting government would come from other lawmakers and their party’s leaders.

"I will have help in making decisions like that," Hoffman said.

"One person can't do it," Doheny agreed.  "There's a lot of us who are going to be new down in Washington and I can assure you we're going to go through that budget line by line."

One of the few tense moments during last night’s debate came when NCPR asked Doheny and Hoffman to clarify what they mean when they say they are pro-life and oppose abortion. Both men declined to specify any penalties that a woman or doctor should face if they perform an illegal abortion.

"I have never said that I was going to become a congressman to make abortion illegal," Hoffman said. He argued that the courts, not Congress, should settle the matter of abortion rights. "I never said in public that I thought it should be made illegal," he repeated.  "I've said that I am pro-life.  The courts have made that decision.  If it gets overruled it's going to be a court decision for how they do it."

Matt Doheny says abortion shouldn't be allowed after the first trimester of pregnancy and has called for bans on so-called "partial birth" abortions. But he, too, declined to specify what penalties should result if someone performs an illegal abortion. "I think I will get a 100% pro-life rating," he said, but added, "In terms of your specifics there, I certainly haven't addressed any of those issues."

During the hour-long debate in Saranac Lake, the two Republicans agreed on most issues. Both men support continued subsidies for farmers, continued government spending at Fort Drum, and more Federal spending for programs and infrastructure on the US-Canada border.

The Republican primary is set for next Tuesday.  Democrat Bill Owens is running unopposed.

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