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As Stefanik's star rises, so does her Democratic opponent's

Pat Bradley
Democratic congressional candidate Tedra Cobb greets voters at a campaign event in Plattsburgh Wednesday


Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-Schuylerville) has been in the national spotlight after challenging House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff during the impeachment hearings in Washington. The president has called her a rising star, while the left responded vociferously.  The attention has spilled over to the district’s congressional campaign and has translated into a surge of donations for Democratic opponent Tedra Cobb, who is in the midst of a campaign tour that came to Plattsburgh Wednesday.

Cobb has reported a million dollars in campaign donations came in over the weekend as she seeks a rematch of the 2018 campaign against Republican Elise Stefanik. “I’m Tedra Cobb and I’m running for Congress because right now Washington is dysfunctional and it’s not helping our region and Elise Stefanik is part of the problem," she said.

In a stump speech, Cobb described her background: graduating from SUNY Potsdam, raising her children in St. Lawrence County and starting a community health agency. The former St. Lawrence County legislator outlined her key issues including health care, Social Security, Medicare and the environment. She claimed the people of the district are not the incumbent’s top priority. 

“We the people of New York’s 21st Congressional District aren’t Stefanik’s priority and we see it in everything she does. And that, that is the biggest difference between us," Cobb said. "Congresswoman Stefanik is a Washington insider. But for the last 30 years I have been here with you. My priorities are your priorities.”

Stefanik has been praised by conservative and vilified by liberals for her performance during the Congressional impeachment hearings. George Conway, a frequent critic of President Trump with a large online following who is the husband of White House advisor Kellyanne Conway, referred to Stefanik as “lying trash” and donated to the Cobb campaign. Since Friday Cobb has received a million dollars in contributions from across the country.  “I am so happy and thankful for all of those people who are now on Team Tedra. And it allows me to keep talking about the issues and it allows me to get out in the district even more.”

Among the local supporters attending Cobb’s campaign kickoff was Tom LaBombard of Keeseville. He says he’s ashamed of Stefanik and prefers Cobb’s non-partisanship. 

“I like the way that she has in the past in her previous positions been willing to work with others on the others on the other side of the table," he said. "I would like to see Washington get back to that. I don’t think she’s going to be able to do that by herself. But if we and others send representatives to Washington who are more willing to do that perhaps we can get Washington back.”

Town of Plattsburgh resident Forest Studebaker wants change in Washington. 

“What I have watched is a candidate who has grown, gotten consistently better and an incumbent who has not grown and who is getting consistently worse. And I feel intensely the desire for change," he said. "I mean I’ve gone so far as to contribute a great deal of effort to candidates in the 19th, 20th and 22nd districts to see some shift. I would just love now to see the 21st follow that direction.”

In an email, Stefanik’s campaign manager Lenny Alcivar said “Congresswoman Stefanik is honored by the overwhelming national support on behalf of the people of the 21st District. Make no mistake, Congresswoman Stefanik will have every available resource to share her bipartisan record of results with North Country voters across party lines, to earn every vote, and to win in 2020.  In contrast, far left Democrat Tedra Cobb…. had an opportunity to denounce her top campaign contributor George Conway’s description of Congresswoman Stefanik as ‘ trash,’ and to return his tainted money, but she refused."  

Speaking with reporters, Cobb said accepting donations doesn’t mean she accepts everyone’s language.