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Elections
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).

North Country Democratic congressional candidate Tedra Cobb tries to shake off summer campaign drama

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Lauren Rosenthal
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NCPR
Democrat Tedra Cobb invited Jessi Tracy (L), president of the St. Lawrence University Democrats, and Madeline Thibault (R), a campaign intern and SLU student, to talk about their involvement in politics at a press conference this week

Democratic congressional candidate Tedra Cobb held her first-ever press conference Tuesday in Canton, in an effort to clarify her platform and turn the page on a turbulent summer.

Traditional wisdom says that after Labor Day is when political races really get serious. But from the minute Cobb won the North Country’s Democratic primary in late June, she’s been facing intense opposition.

Congresswoman Elise Stefanik and her staff have mounted an aggressive campaign against Cobb, attacking her record as a former St. Lawrence County legislator in multiple press releases and one television ad.

Standing outside St. Lawrence County’s legislative building Tuesday afternoon, Cobb said she was proud of her record – and the experiences that led her to run for Congress. "The passion I will bring to the race every day is the passion that I will bring as an elected Congressperson," Cobb said. "I will be no different. This is my home, and you are the people that I hope to serve in Congress."

Cobb spoke to a tiny group of supporters – just about 10 people. The Democrat explained her positions on healthcare and set basic priorities, such as addressing opioid addiction and creating good-paying jobs in the North Country. Cobb even invited a campaign intern and the president of the St. Lawrence University Democrats to come up and talk about their priorities as young voters.

The one thing that didn’t come up: tracking. Cobb’s campaign staff had originally notified reporters that they wanted to respond to a story from North Country Public Radio at this press conference.

Last week, NCPR reported that national Republican officials hired as many as five people — all in their teens and twenties — to work as trackers here in the North Country, following and filming Democratic candidates for Congress. One of those trackers hit pay dirt. He recorded Cobb making controversial comments about an assault weapons ban at a campaign event back in May.

But Cobb’s new campaign spokesman, Brian Phillips Jr., said there’s not much to add. "We don’t want to talk about having to do trackers, all that kind of stuff," Phillips said after the press conference. "You can do trackers. You can do negative ads. But that’s got nothing to do with [the] North Country. That’s not what the values are here – right? At least, from what I’ve learned."

Phillips said the focus now is reaching as many voters as possible – in person – before election day on November 6.