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Stefanik fends off Cobb in 21st Congressional District

Stefanik fends off Cobb in 21st Congressional District

Tedra Cobb gives Stefanik strongest challenge since 2014
Stefanik fends off Cobb in 21st Congressional District
U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik gives her victory speech Tuesday in Glens Falls.
Photographer: Erica Miller

U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik won a third term on Tuesday, holding off a strong challenge from Democrat Tedra Cobb.

With about 554 of 556 districts reporting by Wednesday morning, Stefanik had 56 percent of the vote to 41 percent for Cobb.

Green Party candidate Lynn Kahn of Schroon Lake received about 1.5 percent of the vote.

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Stefanik appeared to have won every county in the 21st Congressional District except Clinton County, according to unofficial returns to the state Board of Elections.

"Thank you, thank you, thank you! We did it!," Stefanik said during an 11:30 p.m. victory speech at the Queensbury Hotel in Glens Falls.

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She thanked both her opponents, whom she said she spoke to Tuesday night.

"The truth is, a tough campaign makes you a better representative," she said. "I am proud to be a strong voice for our veterans, a strong voice for small business, for farmers."

Cobb, who won a Democratic primary in June to challenge Stefanik, spent election night at a hotel in Canton (St. Lawrence County) near her home. Neither Cobb nor her spokesman could be reached for comment late Tuesday night.

Results

  • Stefanik (R): 122,863 - 55.91%
  • Cobb (D): 90,526 - 41.20%
  • Kahn (G): 3,211 - 1.46%
  • Blank: 2,981 - 1.36%
  • 554 of 556 districts reporting
  • New York State Board of Elections

It was a race in which support or opposition to President Donald Trump and his policies provided much of the subtext, though a nearly 50,000-voter enrollment advantage for Republicans in the North Country district made the seat a tough one for Democrats to claim.

Stefanik was first elected in 2014 at age 30, following the retirement of Rep. Bill Owens, D-Plattsburgh, and won 52 percent of the vote against Democrat Aaron Woolf and Green candidate Matt Funicello. In 2016, she beat Democrat Mike Derrick by a 2-to1 margin.

Stefanik, at age 34, remains the youngest member of Congress -- though she will lose that distinction when she returns to Washington in January, with new young candidates elected on Tuesday.

Stefanik portrayed herself as among the most bipartisan members of Congress, while Cobb painted Stefanik as being under the influence of national Republican leaders and corporate donors, and out of touch with North Country voters' concerns.

Cobb, 51, of Canton, is a business consultant who has lived in the North Country since college and served in the St. Lawrence County Legislature from 2001 to 2009. She highlighted strong pro-environment stances and health care. Cobb supports a "Medicare for All" bill that would transfer responsibility for providing health care insurance from private employers to the federal government.

Stefanik grew up in the Albany area and worked in the George W. Bush White House before returning to the region and running for Congress in 2014. She has highlighted her work on a Bipartisan Task Force on Opioid Abuse and her actions to protect the environment, including sponsoring legislation to fight invasive species and to maintain acid-rain protections that some of Trump's proposals would eliminate. Both issues impact the Adirondacks.

Stefanik is also an outspoken advocate of military spending and veterans' issues; Fort Drum in Watertown and the naval nuclear training facility in Saratoga County are both in her district. She has criticized Trump, but also welcomed him to Fort Drum for a bill-signing ceremony in July.

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Through mid-October, Stefanik had raised more than $2.65 million, while Cobb had raised more than $1.3 million – money Cobb said included none of the corporate political action committee (PAC) contributions that Stefanik has accepted. More than half of Stefanik's contributions came from corporate political action committees or ideologically focused generally conservative PACs.

The 21st Congressional District, which stretches from Saratoga and Fulton counties to the Canadian border, and east-west from Lake Champlain to Lake Ontario, leans Republican – though Democrats have won in recent years when the Republican Party was badly split. State Board of Elections figures show the district has 179,239 enrolled Republicans, 131,012 Democrats and 97,556 independent voters.

Since April, state Board of Elections figures show the district gained 8,295 registered voters, with both sides aggressively seeking to register people. The records show Democrats gained 2,574 voters, Republicans 1,439, and voters now enrolled in a party rose the most of all -- by 3,374.

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

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