Capital Region

21st Congressional District race could be a repeat in 2020

Tedra Cobb announces she'll challenge Elise Stefanik again
Tedra Cobb is pictured with U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam.
Tedra Cobb is pictured with U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam.

21st CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT — The 2020 race in the North Country’s 21st Congressional District could be a rematch.

Democrat Tedra Cobb of Canton, a former St. Lawrence County legislator who lost to incumbent Republican Elise Stefanik last November, announced Monday that she’ll challenge Stefanik again in the 2020 congressional race.

“Northern New York deserves a representative who will put partisan politics aside and fight to reduce the cost of health care, protect our air and water, improve our infrastructure and economy, and reduce the influence of corporations and billionaires in Washington,” Cobb said in her announcement.

In 2018, Cobb handily won in a crowded Democratic primary for the nomination to challenge Stefanik, R-Schuylervillle. In the November election, Stefanik defeated Cobb with 57 percent of the vote; Cobb garnered 43 percent. Cobb won, however, in Clinton and Essex counties.

Stefanik, who was elected to her third two-year term, has already indicated she will run for re-election in 2020.

Cobb is the first challenger to make an announcement — doing so nearly a year ahead of when congressional races usually start. But there could be other Democrats joining the field — and the Green and Libertarian parties could also field candidates.

Stefanik immediately responded to Cobb’s announcement with an online ad resurrecting her 2018 criticisms of Cobb as “Taxin’ Tedra,” and Stefanik’s campaign also released a fundraising message linked to the ad.

“In 2018, between resistance and results, North Country voters overwhelmingly chose results,” Stefanik wrote Monday morning in a Twitter post. “After winning by the largest margin of any Congressional Republican in the Northeast, I look forward to running once again on my record of delivering results against far-left resistance.”

Cobb, 51, who today is a small-business consultant, is a graduate of SUNY-Potsdam who has a varied background of jobs in the North Country, including working as a Spanish-speaking counselor in a state prison, working in AIDS counseling, testing and education, and then founding the St. Lawrence Health Initiative, a non-profit health care organization. She is currently on a committee named to write a new joint ethics law for the town and village of Canton.

“When it comes to the issues that matter most to families in our region, we need more than talk. We need action,” Cobb said. “I’ve spent all my life fighting for my neighbors in the North Country.”

She said Stefanik has voted the interests of corporations that in many cases have contributed to her campaign through their political action committees.

Stefanik, 34, who until January was the youngest member of the House of Represenatives, has a degree from Harvard University and previously held political and policy positions in Washington and worked in a family business.

Stefanik’s campaign spent $3 million in the 2018 election cycle and had $352,000 in the bank of of Dec. 31, according to federal election records. Cobb spent $1.5 million, and finished the year with a $39,000 balance, records show. Fundraising numbers for the first quarter of 2019 aren’t yet available.

The district, which stretches from central Saratoga County to the Canadian border and includes Fulton County, has a significantly higher Republican enrollment than Democratic, and has generally leaned conservative.

Reach Gazette reporter Stephen Williams at 518-395-3086, [email protected] or @gazettesteve on Twitter.

Categories: News, Saratoga County

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