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21st Congressional District Candidates In Essex County

With a three-way race in Northern New York’s 21st congressional district, the candidates have been taking to the trail. Recently, the incumbent Republican and Democratic challenger held events within miles of each other.
First-term Republican Congresswoman Elise Stefanik is spending her Easter recess traveling the district meeting with constituents.  On Friday, she stopped by the Port Henry Central School to discuss education issues with Superintendent Bill Larrow, Elementary Principal Val Stahl and other district administrators.   “One of the concerns that I hear from teachers is the challenges of utilizing the modules when they’re teaching in the classroom.”
Larrow:  “We basically did use the models as a template.”
Stahl:  “There are holes in the modules and we needed to create our own curriculum from the modules.”
Stefanik:  “We passed K-12 reauthorization in the Education Committee, which is the first time since No Child Left Behind. So woefully in need of an update.”  

Stefanik then met with students from the Senior Government and Social Studies classes. Recording was not allowed during that session.  The incumbent offered the same responses she provided WAMC to questions on issues such as the Supreme Court nominee and the presidential election, instead staying focused on pending education and mental health bills.   “I’m focused on doing my job representing this district.  I’m 15 months into this job and my constituents know that I’m working hard on their behalf. And that’s what I’m going to continue to be focused on. Economic development and job creation is always a top focus of mine and I think we need to tie that to the education.”  

Later that afternoon, about 30 miles down the road in Ticonderoga, United Steelworkers District 4 Staff Representative Rick Saure announced their endorsement of Democratic challenger Mike Derrick.    “Mike is exactly the type of representative we need in the 21st Congressional.  A few months back, Alcoa announced that they were shutting down its plant in the district. We didn’t have to call Mike.  Mike called us and asked what can I do to help? We didn’t hear anything from our current congressperson.”

Derrick told his supporters that fundraising efforts are going well despite national distractions.   “It’s been tough in a year where everybody is just absolutely fascinated by the presidential race. All the energy, all the attention, goes to the craziness going on at the presidential level right now. But we are doing well and what really makes it most meaningful to me is when I get donations within the district. And I want to make this race one which is funded from largely inside the 21st district because my opponent will fund hers to the tune of about 85 percent from outside the district. That calls into question who’s paying for the seat that she occupies.”

Green Party candidate Matt Funiciello officially announced earlier this month that he is also running for the seat.

The Sabato Crystal Ball at University of Virginia Center for Politics is famed for following and analyzing Congressional races across the country.  It rates NY’s 21st district as going “Likely Republican.”   Managing Editor Kyle Kondik explains that’s due to the three-way race.   “It’s a district that has a tiny, tiny democratic lean. Its presidential performance is about the same as the nation as a whole and so it’s a classic swing district.  There are a lot of Republican voters in that district and one would think that they would stick with Stefanik.  Stefanik is someone who has had decent fundraising.  She seems to be working pretty hard and doing the things she needs to do to get reelected. I think that probably the biggest thing working in her favor is that she not only has a Democratic opponent but she also has a credible Green party opponent, both of whom, one would think, would split the maybe anti-Stefanik vote.  In which case Stefanik should be able to hold on to her seat.”

The district is one of the largest in the eastern U.S., representing the northern portion of the state and encompassing more than 15,000 square miles.

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