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Stefanik wins re-election, sweeping all North Country counties

Brian Mann
Rep. Elise Stefanik speaks to supporters at her victory party Tuesday night.

Rep. Elise Stefanik stormed her way to a second term last night. The Republican from Willsboro won the North Country’s congressional seat by more than 90,000 votes in unofficial returns. The Democrat and the Green in the race were both handed stinging defeats.

Jubilation in Glens Falls

It was a jubilant and confident night in a packed ballroom at the Queensbury Hotel as a beaming Elise Stefanik greeted volunteers and supporters after winning every single North Country county – often by landslide margins. Young volunteers chanted "Elise! Elise! Elise!"

After being introduced by Republican Assemblyman Dan Stec and state Sen. Betty Little, Stefanik herself took the podium and promised again to bring fresh ideas and energy to the region.  

"I will work... in every corner of this very, very large district, focusing on economic growth and creating jobs," she said.

A Democrat swept aside in Plattsburgh

Stefanik faced a competitor in this race who on paper looked like a formidable rival, Mike Derrick, a former Republican himself, a former Army colonel, a combat veteran. But in the end he was outspent, out-organized and swept aside in what turned out to be a conservative wave that saw every North Country county but one vote for Donald Trump.

At a gathering in Plattsburgh, Derrick thanked his supporters.

"It's my honor to be here tonight. It didn't turn out the way we wanted," said Derrick, offering congratulations to Stefanik and praised her for running "a tough campaign."

Greens lose ground

Last night’s vote was also a blow to the Green Party’s Matt Funiciello. Two years after scoring nearly 11 percent of the vote in the 2014 House race, he hoped to do even better, perhaps edging the Democrat in this race. Instead Matt Funiciello won just over 4 percent of the vote. At a gathering in Glens Falls, he said he expected to do far better and said he would be open to another Green candidate running.

"I certainly am looking at a 5 or 6 percent result as not a very resounding clarion call that people really want me to be running," he said. Funiciello added that support on social media seemed to indicate that he would fare better. 

Is this district really 'purple?'

Last night’s congressional vote felt like an important milestone in a region that until recently regularly supported Democratic members of Congress, including Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, and former Reps. Scott Murphy and Bill Owens, all of whom represented parts of the North Country from 2007 through 2014.

The North Country’s district now feels firmly in the hands of Elise Stefanik, a rising star in the GOP. She now returns to what appears to be a transformed Washington, D.C. where her party seems likely to control every branch of the federal government.