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New York's 21st Congressional District includes all of Clinton, Franklin, St. Lawrence, Jefferson, Lewis, Hamilton, Essex, Warren, Washington and Fulton counties and parts of Saratoga and Herkimer counties.0000017a-3c50-d913-abfe-bd54a8740000The incumbent is Elise Stefanik (R-Willsboro). Stefanik was first elected in 2014 -- in which she made history by becoming the youngest woman in the House -- by defeating Democrat Aaron Woolf 53-32 percent.Other declared candidates in the 2016 race for the seat include Mike Derrick (D), retired Army colonel; and Matt Funiciello (G).

Stefanik wins GOP 21st Congressional District primary

Brian Mann
NCPR file photo
Republican Elise Stefanik declares victory in Glens Falls Tuesday night, with her family and GOP county leaders behind her.

After entering the race as a complete unknown last year, Elise Stefanik won the Republican Party primary in New York's 21st Congressional District Tuesday night by a commanding margin over Matt Doheny.

Stefanik, a 29-year-old political analyst, overcame non-existent name recognition, opposition from some senior GOP leaders, and claims that she was a "carpetbagger" from outside the North Country district.

None of those challenges slowed her, as she powered to a commanding victory, winning every county across the vast district, including Watertown businessman Matt Doheny's home turf of Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties.

In her victory speech, she trumpeted her youth -- Stefanik turns 30 next month -- and what she described as her fresh ideas, saying that she planned to bring new voters to Republican politics.

She toppled a candidate who, on paper, appeared like a far easier sell for GOP voters. Doheny, a businessman who spent election night with his wife and family, entered the race late, after Democratic incumbent Rep. Bill Owens announced his retirement.

"We had people going door to door, people talking to friends," said Doheny in his concession speech. "This result was not reflective of the level of effort, the level of caring of all our friends."

This was Doheny's third unsuccessful effort to capture the 21st district seat. He blamed the loss in part on outside conservative groups for hitting him with attack advertisements, particularly the super PAC American Crossroads, founded by a nationally-known Republican.

"Karl Rove had a good night," he said. That statement drew boos and hisses from GOP leaders on hand in Glens Falls for Stefanik's victory.

Stefanik now moves forward to face Democrat Aaron Woolf, a seasonal resident of Elizabethtown in Essex County and Matt Funiciello, a long-time businessman from the Glens Falls area.

David Sommerstein, a contributor from North Country Public Radio (NCPR), has covered the St. Lawrence Valley, Thousand Islands, Watertown, Fort Drum and Tug Hill regions since 2000. Sommerstein has reported extensively on agriculture in New York State, Fort Drum’s engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the lives of undocumented Latino immigrants on area dairy farms. He’s won numerous national and regional awards for his reporting from the Associated Press, the Public Radio News Directors Association, and the Radio-Television News Directors Association. He's regularly featured on NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Only a Game, and PRI’s The World.