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A Look At the Candidates In NY’s 21st Congressional District Campaign

Two years ago, voters in New York’s 21st district elected the youngest woman to Congress in history. It was a three-way race between neophytes.  Now the Republican incumbent is once again in a three-way race, facing one of her former opponents.
Republican Congresswoman Elise Stefanik is seeking her second term to represent the largest district geographically in New York and one of the largest in the eastern U.S.   “I'm approaching my race just as I have my last campaign. I am planning and I have outworked both of my opponents. I'm running on my record of results and my new ideas that I've introduced and that I've gotten done.”

Stefanik says she has been successful at delivering on promises she made during her first campaign and as a freshman has had laws enacted.  “I wrote the largest fix to Obamacare: the repeal of the auto enrollment mandate and it was signed into law as part of last year’s end of legislative session package in December. That's a significant accomplishment that I have made. I’ve really rolled up my sleeves and gotten work on behalf of this district and I've had a lot of opportunities that are not typical for a freshman member.”

Stefanik has come under some criticism for her support of GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump.  She says she believes in the electoral process and Republicans selected Trump.  “I have spoken out when I've disagreed with my party’s nominee. But I am supporting the Republican ticket because I believe that Trump is more likely to work with a Republican Congress on important issues.”

Democrat Mike Derrick is a retired Army Colonel who moved back to the area and is conducting his first campaign.   “I felt very strongly that our current representation in this district was not sufficient was not good for us as a region and didn't give us the kind of good government that we need in this region, we need all across this nation.”

Green Party hopeful Matt Funiciello, owner of Rock Hill Bakehouse, is running for the seat for the second time. He says any Green campaign is an uphill battle and one of his key goals is to inspire the electorate.   “Climate change is not going anywhere. The working class is getting $7.25 an hour. We do not have peace. We have six hundred billion dollars a year being spent making war overseas.  And we're forcing our children into a system of debt, indentured servitude when it comes to education that it's ah it really is a disgrace. And I want my America to change as do so many other Americans. And I think offering an alternative is the only way we're ever going to see that happen.”

The individual campaigns have been conducting internal polling and each tends to indicate positive results for the particular candidate.

Democrat Derrick says his campaign’s polling shows his numbers are climbing. He questions the accuracy of Republican polling for his opponent since a GOP PAC is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to support the incumbent.   “You know they would not be spending that money were it not close. But you know also keep in mind that this has been a year of absolutely fundamental surprises. Just amazing things have happened that so called experts and pundits would never have predicted.”

Green Funiciello senses three times the level of interest from his last campaign and believes he is a stronger challenger than Derrick.   “Our internal polls actually show me beating Mike Derrick and actually giving Elise Stefanik a run for her money. That is not what the Republican Party has leaked as far as their internal polls go and it's not what Mike Derrick has suggested even though he hasn't you know released any polling at all. I believe that I'm going to beat Mike in this race. I'm not sure how well we will then do against Elise Stefanik.”

In a poll conducted in mid-October for the National Republican Congressional Committee, Stefanik led Derrick 54 to 29 percent.  Real Clear Politics and Sabato’s Crystal Ball both place the district as “Likely GOP.”

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