US Congressman Elise Stefanik’s journey through the sprawling North Country, New York area will meet voters who say the Congressman has changed.
However, opinions are divided on what that evolution means, with some welcoming it and others frustrating it.
Take Jack Tierney, a Franklin County beef farmer who has lived in the Malone area near the Canadian border since the 1970s. He speaks highly of Stefanik, calling her “wonderful” and stating that he “could use ten more of hers like her” in her parliament.
But he wasn’t always keen to offer such strong support, especially when she was first elected.
“I remember calling her office and saying, ‘We don’t need Republicans acting like Democrats.’ no need,” he said.
He says one of the reasons he likes Stefanik now is her willingness to defend former President Donald Trump.
When Trump first became the nominee in 2016, Stefanik said she would endorse the eventual Republican nominee while keeping her distance. One and proudly calls himself “ULTRA MAGA”.
Like Tierney, other supporters, including St. Lawrence County farmer Russ Finley, are also eyeing the evolution.
In 2018, he launched a wacky primary challenge against Stefanik, naming her a Republican in name only.
Now he says he’s a believer and doesn’t call her “Reno”.
“Over time, she’s had the opportunity to evolve to her current more conservative position, and then to a stronger one,” he said. It was opened and we were told we needed a fighter.”
district trump hug
Stefanik’s turn to Trumpism reflects the evolution of her North Country District.
Democrat Bill Owens served in the House for five years until Stefanik was elected in 2014.
Counties like St. Lawrence and Franklin voted for Barack Obama in 2012, then dramatically Trump in 2016 and 2020.
“I think it shows that President Trump and the Make America Great movement have really expanded the Republican Party today – people who feel left out of the status quo in Washington,” Stefanik said in an interview. Spectrum News 1when asked about the changes she was seeing in her district.
The massive, newly redrawn 21st congressional district stretches from suburban Albany across the Adirondack River and along Vermont and Canada.
Across the district, Stefanik has many fans, some of whom are happy with his closeness to Trump.
“Elise is someone we can trust and trust,” said Laura Favoscay of Montgomery County.
“I like the freedom she stands for. I like that she’s not intimidating,” said Paula O’Neill of Northville.
Detractor of Stephanik
Some of Stefanik’s detractors within the district, as well as some of her supporters, claim that she has changed, but not for the better.
Christine Leyo, a Democrat from Norfolk, said she once voted for Stefanik.
“At first I liked her, but when Trump became president she became a Trump supporter and now acts like him. I kept it away,” she said.
Others see Stefanik as prioritizing his pursuit of power.
“When the Republican Party was in power, she was a member of it. [that] Vermontville’s Ellen Bieberman said:
“I think she’s more interested in the power she gets and her rise in the Republican Party than she is in representing the people,” said Philip Barnett of Rensselaer Falls.
Congressman on “Change”
Asked in Congress what he had accomplished, Stefanik secured funding for local hospitals and Fort Drum, pushed the reopening of the northern border as the pandemic eased, and renewed the North American Free Trade Agreement. I mentioned that
In Washington, however, her political moves are making headlines.
Last year, Republicans in the House voted to replace Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney with Stefanik as chairman of the Republican convention.
Her new role will increase her influence in the House of Representatives if Republicans win a majority in November.
New York Republican Rep. John Catko, who joined Congress in 2015, was asked if he thought she had evolved.
“We have to represent the views and values of our constituents,” he said. “That’s what she does and that’s what I do.”
Stefanik dismissed the question as to whether she had changed.
“Since I ran for office, I have been a hardworking and strong conservative voice. I have always strived to give this school district a seat at the table at the highest level. And I’m not going to apologize for that,” she said.
Political Handicap rates her as a solid candidate for re-election this November.