With two weeks left to campaign, the three candidates running in New York’s 21st district House race participated in their first debate Tuesday. Afterward, each told WAMC’s North Country Bureau Chief Pat Bradley, who was a member of the panel, they felt they had done well.
The first debate between Republican Elise Stefanik, Democrat Tedra Cobb and Lynn Kahn of the Green Party was taped at Mountain Lake PBS and will debut on TV tonight at 7. Stefanik is seeking her third two-year term to represent northern New York in Congress. She characterized the debate as spirited even as she continued to find fault with her Democratic opponent’s policies. “I’m proud of my record of results. My Democratic opponent represents Nancy Pelosi and Andrew Cuomo tax-and-spend policies. There were numerous instances in the debate where she talked about how she will vote to raise taxes and she has voted to raise taxes. I think Dr. Kahn was a very active participant in this debate. But that’s what elections are about and I’m proud of my bi-partisan record of results. Whether it’s supporting small businesses, whether it’s standing up for North Country farmers or whether it’s promoting trade policy in this region of the district which is very important.”
Bradley: “Were there any topics you would’ve liked to have talked about during this debate that we didn’t get to?”
Stefanik: “Yes. I think agriculture, trade policy and northern border issues, I think mental health and I think Second Amendment rights.”
Cobb says she had wanted the debate to be a town hall-style forum with more public participation, but claims Stefanik nixed the idea. Cobb also continued to lob more criticism after the debate’s conclusion. “The points that I made about Elise Stefanik are not about her as a person. They’re about her voting record. Elise Stefanik has voted in ways that have harmed people in the district and she has taken corporate money from pharmaceutical industries. That was my goal tonight to hold her accountable and to educate people in the district about her record. I feel that I was clear. I think that we finally are holding Elise Stefanik accountable for her record and how she has voted in ways that have harmed the district. So I think I met that.”
For her part, Kahn says she’s never been in a debate before and thought it was fun. “There were a lot of great questions and some some really good answers. I think I did great. I think I made the point that we have two corporate-funded parties. And when it comes down to it: same two parties, same bad results.”
Bradley: “How difficult has it been to be a third party candidate running for a national level office in this district?”
Kahn: “So in some ways it’s been pretty easy and in some ways really hard. I think everybody’s tired of all that fighting and standing between them I really felt it. It was like can you talk about the issues and not just each other? And I think that’s what a lot of voters are feeling and they’re happy to discover that there really is a third choice.”
The trio will participate in two more debates before Election Day: October 29th at Spectrum News in Albany and on October 30th at WWNY in Watertown.