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Woolf Concedes Congressional Race To Republican Stefanik

WAMC/Pat Bradley

In northern New York’s 21st Congressional district, Democrat Aaron Woolf offered an emotional concession speech after losing the election to Republican Elise Stefanik last night.

Supporters of the first-time candidate gathered in Woolf’s hometown of Elizabethtown in hopes that he might pull out a victory. But with polls showing the Democrat trailing Republican Elise Stefanik, there was a sense of resignation among the revelers. C.G. Stephens from Wadhams expected a loss but was tempered in his disappointment.  “I think there’s real value in the process. I don’t think there are many politicians out there who have ultimately been successful without losing a few races. I certainly hope he continues to work in public policy.”

Woolf entered the Cobble Hill Inn at about 10:45 after several North Country media outlets called the election for Republican Sefanik. Surrounded by his family, Woolf thanked his staff, volunteers and supporters as he emotionally conceded the race.   “I just had a phone conversation with both of my two opponents in the race. I called Elise Stefanik and I congratulated her.  I asked her if her commitments to bipartisanism that she expressed so often were real.  She assured me that they were. I won’t be going to Washington to represent us this time. But I will continue to do what I have done as a citizen to work for the betterment of our communities in modest ways. You have made this one of the most enriching and most challenging and most pleasurable experiences of my life. I’m so grateful to call the New York 21st my home. What a wonderful place.”

Credit WAMC/Pat Bradley
Aaron Woolf receives solace from supporters following concession.

Woolf believes the public is yearning for a change and is frustrated by inaction in Washington. He hopes Stefanik will be able to “build bridges” through bipartisan actions.  “I do think that we live in an era in which many powerful interests from far outside of the New York 21st have had a say in this race. I think that may have distorted some of what actually happened here.”  Woolf  was asked how optimistic he is  about the Republican that will now be taking office following his conversation with her.  “I think she deserves every chance to earn our support. I think she fought a hard fight. I think she worked very hard on the campaign trail and we don’t have a choice but to support her. She is our elected representative. She is my congressperson now. I want to make sure she succeeds because if she doesn’t succeed we won’t succeed in this district.”

Nearly $4 million was spent by PAC’s to support Elise Stefanik’s campaign. Woolf, meanwhile, lent his campaign $800,000. 20th Congressional district Democrat Paul Tonko noted that Woolf was up against tremendous resources that Republicans invested in the district.  “He, I believe,  had a very soulful message that was laser sharp in its focus. I think he offered a great candidacy in that district. I’m certain that he grew from that experience and would not be surprised to see him make a return attempt.”

Bill Owens, the Democrat retiring from the 21st district seat, supported Woolf and believes that Green candidate Matt Funiciello siphoned off critical votes.  “Fairly clear I think that the impact of the third party candidate dramatically altered the outcome of the race. It would’ve been maybe a two point race in the absence of that according to the results I’ve seen. So that was a big disappointment. You know when you have somebody like the third party candidate who says they will not caucus with either party, they would have no chance of getting anything done. It really seemed to me like a wasted vote.”

With all but six districts in the 21st reporting, the NYS Board of Elections unofficial results show Woolf with 32 percent, Stefanik 53 percent and Green Funiciello with 10.9 percent of the vote.

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