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Boehner Attends Fundraiser For Stefanik, Evades Protesters

Joe Seeman in costume protesting in Glens Falls in 2014
Lucas Willard

U.S. House Speaker John Boehner visited Glens Falls yesterday to attend a fundraiser for the Republican candidate in the race for northern New York’s 21st Congressional District. While one of the nation’s most prominent Republicans did not meet with the general public or media, some protesters hoped to catch his attention.

Boehner attended the private fundraiser for GOP candidate Elise Stefanik Tuesday evening at the Queensbury Hotel in Glens Falls.

Quietly slipping in a side door, Boehner arrived early and did not schedule a press appearance or meet with the public outside the venue. A few police officers provided security outside.

On the sidewalk, a group of protesters organized through MoveOn.org accused Boehner of raising corporate cash for the candidate who aims to become the youngest woman ever elected to Congress.

“Get out of here, peasant! Go buy your own politician!”

Joe Seeman of Ballston Spa, wearing a top hat and sunglasses, disguised himself as “Rob M. Blind”, a “billionaire” as part of a group called “Elitists for Elite.”

“We know that with a Republican Congress, with John Boehner, and maybe with Elise Stefanik, we’ll make sure we don’t do anything to stop burning oil, we don’t do anything to protect the environment, because the Republicans are there to protect corporate profits for the One Percent,” said Seeman.

Organizer Susan Weber of Lake George was operating a marionette puppet with an image of Stefanik’s face.

“We think we don’t need another GOP do-nothing Congressperson in Washington, and we certainly don’t need a GOP Congressperson representing the 21st District.”

Weber did not disclose which candidate she supports in the race to replace retiring Democrat Bill Owens. Democrat Aaron Woolf and Green Party candidate Matt Funiciello are running against Stefanik.

Woolf commented on Boehner’s visit in a campaign press release sent out Tuesday, saying “Elise Stefanik must call on the Speaker to stop obstructing progress and hold a vote on increasing the minimum wage and passing the Buffett Rule.”

Stefanik’s campaign did return a call for comment Wednesday morning, and her downtown Glens Falls office was closed at the time of the Boehner event. She was not available for interviews.

Speaker Boehner came to Glens Falls a day after raising money in Syracuse for Republican John Katko’s campaign for the 24th District against Rep. Dan Maffei, a Democrat.

Boehner has stumped for Republican Congressman Chris Gibson in the WAMC region in 2010 and 2013. In 2012, he made an appearance for former North Country Republican candidate Matt Doheny.

WAMC’s Political Observer Dr. Alan Chartock said Boehner’s visits are all about voter turnout.

“There will be Republicans who say ‘Oh well, the speaker was up here and did that, and that’s impressive and I’ll turn out.’ It’s not that you’re going to get a total of more votes, but you’re going to get a better turnout.” 

Earlier this month, former presidential candidate Ralph Nader spoke in Glens Falls to support Funiciello and Green Party gubernatorial candidate Howie Hawkins. With Blue Dog Democrat Owens retiring, the swing district is up for grabs as the parties bring out their heavy-hitters.

And in August, former House Speaker, now Democratic minority leader Nancy Pelosi made an appearance in  Albany with 20th District Congressman Paul Tonko, who is running against Republican challenger Jim Fischer.

Again, Alan Chartock.

“Every time there’s an open seat, every time there’s a possibility one party or the other could win, or there could be a switch, they’re going to be here. And that is certainly the case in the North Country here.”

In a recent poll by WWNY-7 News and Siena College, Stefanik leads Woolf 46 to 33 percent. Funicello has 10 percent, and 11 percent are undecided. In the district, registered Republicans outnumber Democrats by a 13-point margin.

Lucas Willard is a reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011.
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