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Candidates React To NY-21 Primary Results

NY 21 candidates
photos by Pat Bradley/WAMC

The general election in New York’s 21st Congressional district is set. Democrat Tedra Cobb easily won the five-person primary in the 12-county region Tuesday and will challenge two-term incumbent Republican Elise Stefanik. WAMC’s North Country Bureau Chief Pat Bradley has reaction from the candidates.
Former St. Lawrence County legislator Tedra Cobb of Canton won 11 of the 12 counties in northern New York’s sprawling 21st Congressional District.  Cobb attributes her victory to strong organization with 900 volunteers and a base of donors she says will be a strong foundation for the general election.  Cobb also plans to stay on message as she challenges incumbent Elise Stefanik.  “I am going to stay on message that we need health care.  We need to reduce the cost of prescription drugs. We need to ensure that everyone in this district has access to health care, that businesses can survive and thrive. Those are the messages that I will talk about and focus on because we’re in trouble here and we need a representative who’s serving us. That is important and that’s what I’m going to talk about.  And that’s at the end of the day that’s why people that’s why people chose me as the candidate and that’s why I think they’ll choose me in November.”

Although overall turnout was generally low, Saranac Lake’s Dylan Ratigan, who won in Herkimer County, says he was encouraged by the size of the turnout.  “When you look at the mid-term primary in 2014 it’s almost a doubling of the participation. So I think it’s an incredible sign for the level of engagement and I think it’s a level of engagement that will carry through the entire year politically. So I’m really obviously pleased by that and duly impressed by the size of Tedra Cobb’s victory. I fully congratulate her and wish her the best in the general.”

Emily Martz has been emphasizing the need for the candidates and the party to come together and says what matters now is that the candidates unify around the nominee.  She expects all the candidates and volunteers will now work to that end.  “To get the North Country new representation, better representation, we need to of course have all Democrats turn out to vote.  People want to be a part of positive change. People want to be a part of a movement. That’s why so many people loved Bernie.  He gave them hope. And in order to be able to carry that sort of a message people have to be unified, the party has to be unified. And I know it was really important that that display begin immediately.”

The losing candidates say they do plan to back Cobb.  During her concession speech, Keene businesswoman Katie Wilson told her supporters it is crucial to support Cobb and get a Democrat in the seat.  “We gambled. We rolled the dice.  It didn’t it didn’t play out you know we didn’t come out on top. But right now what everyone has to do is work like hell to make sure that Tedra Cobb is our next Congresswoman. This moment is about making sure someone like Stefanik, who has no idea what it’s like to live here, does not find a third term. So don’t be jaded and rally behind the winner because she earned it.”

Patrick Nelson was the first to enter the race and while disappointed, he’s also proud of his campaign’s efforts.  “We ran one of the most efficient campaigns in the district you know focusing on grassroots small dollar contributions. And you know we got the message out there. It wasn’t didn’t resonate as much as we wanted it to and I commend the Cobb team because that was definitely a team effort over there of all of those 800 volunteers. They knocked on doors. They made phone calls. They sent post cards. They got the vote out.  And that’s what you have to do to win an election like this.”

A release from Stefanik’s campaign welcomed Cobb to the general election and anticipated a spirited campaign.  But it went on to say “…our opponent emerges from a weak, divisive Democratic primary as the out of touch, liberal, hyper-partisan, tax-and-spend candidate of the general election."

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