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Cobb wins Democratic primary in 21st Congressional District

Cobb wins Democratic primary in 21st Congressional District

Former St. Lawrence legislator to take on Stefanik in fall
Cobb wins Democratic primary in 21st Congressional District
Johnstown resident Alice Ackerknecht signs in to vote at the Shirley J Luck Senior Center in the city on Tuesday.
Photographer: Marc Schultz

21st CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT -- Former St. Lawrence County legislator Tedra Cobb won a decisive victory Tuesday night in the 21st Congressional District Democratic primary.

Cobb, who is from Canton, easily led a field of five Democrats vying to compete this fall against U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik in the sprawling North Country congressional district, winning more than 55 percent of the vote. She won in 10 of the 12 counties all or partially located in the district.

The other four candidates more or less evenly splitting the rest of the vote.

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Tedra Cobb (Photo: Provided)

Cobb, who founded a community health care center in Canton and now works as a business consultant, was the only candidate with previous experience in elected office, and she also raised the most money, allowing her to buy television ads in areas like the Capital Region where she wasn't well known.

Cobb served in the St. Lawrence County Legislature from 2002 until 2009. Like the other candidates, she emphasized her support for improved health care access to be a national priority -- something Democrats across the country see as a good issue in the wake of Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

The National Republican Congressional Committee released a statement just after 10:30 p.m. criticizing Cobb.

"Democrats had several moderate candidates who fit the district to choose from, but instead they chose Tedra Cobb," said spokesperson Chris Martin said. "She’s running on a record marred by tax increases on middle-class families and she would be yet another rubber stamp for Nancy Pelosi in Congress.”

Stefanik campaign spokesman Lenny Alcivar released a statement attacking Cobb: "Tonight we congratulate Tedra Cobb on winning the Democratic primary and welcome her to the general election. This election offers voters a clear choice. Congresswoman Stefanik has united Republicans, Conservatives, Democrats, and Independents with her bipartisan, independent record of delivering real results for hard-working families and small businesses, our seniors and military service men and women, and our veterans across the North Country. In contrast, our opponent emerges from a weak, divisive Democratic primary as the out of touch, liberal, hyper-partisan, tax-and-spend candidate of the general election."

Cobb, who was celebrating in Canton, had not made any official comment as of 11 p.m.

In Saratoga County, which leans heavily Republican, only a few dozen Democrats had voted at the Milton Community Center by 6 p.m., though one election inspector said there were more voters than she expected.

"I voted for Tedra Cobb in a very, very competitive race," said Ron Seyb, an associate dean at Skidmore College. He hopes Democrats will unite after the primary.

"Obviously it's going to be difficult to beat Stefanik," he said. "It's been a pretty civil campaign."

Ed Morrow, a motel housekeeper, said he voted for Emily Martz "because I went to school with someone named Martz, but I don't know if they're related. I really don't know who any of them are, but I just want to get the Democrats in there and get a blue wave going."

Cobb was the fundraising leader among Democrats, having collected $363,540 through June 6, according to federal records. Her funding, however, pales beside that of Stefanik, R-Willsboro, who already has collected more than $1.6 million toward her re-election campaign.

Dylan Ratigan of Lake Placid, the former MSNBC business commentator who is the best-known candidate nationally, appeared to finish second, though he was in a tight competition for second with Katie Wilson of Keene and Martz.

Wilson owns a small business in Keene and campaigned on calls to protect the environment as well as reform the nation's health care system. Martz of Saranac Lake is a former college professor and most recently was development director for the Adirondack North County Association, a regional economic development group in Saranac Lake.

Patrick Nelson, of Stillwater, who is the youngest candidate at age 28 and the only candidate with Capital Region roots, worked for the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign in 2016 and also worked for Stefanik's last two Democratic challengers. He finished with the lowest vote total.

The 21st District stretches across the North Country from Fulton and Saratoga counties in the Capital Region through the rural and remote Adirondacks to the Canadian border, including the vast area west of the Adirondacks, which includes Watertown and Fort Drum.

Reach Gazette reporter Stephen Williams at 518-395-3086, swilliams@dailygazette.net or @gazettesteve on Twitter.

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