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Stefanik secures fifth term in NY-21

Rep. Elise Stefanik and her son Sam on Election Night
Lucas Willard
Rep. Elise Stefanik and her son Sam on Election Night

New York Congresswoman Elise Stefanik has won a fifth term. The North Country Republican won Tuesday in a larger 21st District that includes all or parts of 15 counties, fending off a challenge from Democratic newcomer Matt Castelli.

Elise Stefanik took the stage with her young son, Sam. The Republican spoke to the crowd in Glens Falls in a defiant tone.

“As always I will work my very hardest every single day delivering results to the North Country and I am honored and humbled that you’ve given me the opportunity to serve you at the highest levels. And no matter what the smears from the mainstream media, no matter what the smears are from Hollywood, I will tell you, I will never apologize for giving this district a seat at the highest levels,” said Stefanik.

Surrounded by longtime North Country supporters and young campaign volunteers, the GOP conference leader pledged to advance Republican priorities including funding police, defending gun rights, passing a so-called parents’ bill of rights, and investigating unspecified corruption in the Biden administration.

“We’ve unveiled our commitment to America, which is our agenda for the first 100 days – an economy that’s strong, reigning in the trillions of dollars of reckless spending to get this historic inflation under control, unleashing American energy independence to lower the price of gas, lower the price of utilities, lower the price of home heating oil,” said Stefanik.

The Number Three House Republican, a key Trump-backed party fundraiser, promised a “red wave” that didn’t materialize nationally. But her margin was sizable.

At Democratic headquarters a few blocks away, challenger Matt Castelli offered a concession — and a warning.

“And as I wish Congresswoman Stefanik a congratulations in her victory, it comes with an important and stark reminder that this office does not belong to her. It belongs to us,” said Castelli.

Castelli, a former CIA officer and counterterrorism official, sought to pull Independent and even some Republicans away from Stefanik. He also ran on his own Moderate Party line.

“With or without Congresswoman Stefanik, our community has come together with a strong coalition that we have built that has begun to take root. There are folks continuing to face challenges and they’re counting on us to show up and stand together,” said Castelli.

Stefanik’s 21st District now includes three new conservative-leaning counties after the latest round of redistricting. According to unofficial returns, Stefanik defeated Castelli by more than 19 points, slighting expanding her margin over her Democratic challenger Tedra Cobb in 2020.

Asked by reporters if she had a message for Castelli, Stefanik offered few words.

“Ah, look, I’m sure he’s packing up and moving back downstate where he’s from,” said Stefanik.

Castelli is a native of Poughkeepsie who moved to northern New York as he mounted his run for Congress. He defeated left-leaning Democrat Matt Putorti in the August primary, and continued his bid on a moderate platform.

Stefanik, who also relocated to NY-21 before she ran her 2014 campaign, has shed her once bipartisan moderate image and proudly calls herself “ultra-MAGA.” The strategy appears to have paid off with the GOP on the cusp of a House majority.

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