Rep. Bill Owens' campaign portrayed Republican Matt Doheny as beholden to Speaker John Boehner because he wouldn't take a position on the farm bill.
“Matt Doheny has a clear choice: New York farmers or John Boehner," James Hannaway, the campaign manager for Mr. Owens, D-Plattsburgh, said in a news release today. "He can either support a common sense, bipartisan piece of legislation that farmers need, or he can play games and shout political rhetoric from the sidelines."
Mr. Doheny told a TV station that "I'm not in Congress. I don't know all those fancy legislative techniques and all that stuff.”
And on a more granular level, Mr. Doheny told me of a dairy program in the bill that “I'm not saying I wouldn't support it." This isn't negative campaigning — it's double-negative campaigning.
The Owens campaign's release points to a New York Times article that says the bill pits tea party conservatives against moderates and Democrats.
Specifics are hard to come by with any politician, but Democrats have attacked Mr. Doheny for being especially cagey — for example, he said he's for eliminating tax deductions, but can't name any specifically, and is loath to discuss the Paul Ryan budget as it relates to Medicare.
Which isn't to say that Mr. Owens ingests a daily truth serum with his morning coffee. He danced gingerly around a simple question of: Do you support Barack Obama for re-election (a qualified yes, at this point). He's also walked a fine and delicate line on gay marriage and abortions, the legality of both of which, when it comes right down to it, he supports.
But on the farm bill, I wouldn't not say that Mr. Doheny was not candid about his position.
The Doheny campaign responds, via an email from spokesman Jude Seymour:
“It’s unfortunate - but not surprising - that Bill Owens is starting his campaign by misleading voters. He’s trying to avoid talking about the issue that matters most to voters: the lack of jobs in this district due to my opponent’s support for higher taxes, more regulations and more government spending. Here are the facts: Several farmers told Matt last week that they have adopted a ‘wait-and-see’ approach to Farm Bill legislation because there are competing visions between the Senate bill and what emerged from the House Agriculture Committee. Matt believes that is also appropriate and will provide a thoughtful opinion on the version that comes to the House floor."