Republican Matt Doheny's campaign against Democratic Rep. Bill Owens has been about a lot of things, but the biggest thing that it's been about is a perceived failure of Mr. Owens to create jobs in the north country.
The Doheny campaign often cites the high unemployment rate in several north country counties — over 10 percent in places like St. Lawrence County, for example — and the more than 5,000 jobs that have been lost since Mr. Owens took office.
Is it unfair to lay that at the feet of one congressman — out of 435 — in one chamber of one branch of government? Are we deluding ourselves into the comforting notion that our policymakers have control over a vast, complicated economy?
Probably. But politically, results matter. So it was with that in mind that I asked Mr. Doheny where the unemployment rate in the north country would stand if he were elected.
He couldn't put a number on it, but guaranteed that the unemployment rate in the north country would go down within three years (the same amount of time Mr. Owens has been in office).
"The answer is: The number will go down. And that's how I will be graded," Mr. Doheny said Sunday at a harvest dinner in Adams. "Should I be benchmarked on this? Absolutely. Will the numbers go down? Absolutely."
Mr. Doheny said that a particular focus in the Watertown area is making sure that there's another industry here other than Fort Drum. He also said he'd make Massena and Ogdensburg, two small, economically devastated St. Lawrence County cities, thrive again.
The end of the recession could mean an economic comeback — and 12 million jobs by 2016 — no matter who gets elected as president. That was from a Moody's study cited by the Washington Post.
The following from the Washington Post can easily be applied to the congressional race here, too: "We have often noted that presidents are often at the mercy—or the beneficiary—of broad economic trends, and (Mitt) Romney's pledge appears to be an effort to take advantage of that."