By Michael Goot

November 4, 2020

Local political leaders are attributing U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik’s decisive win on Tuesday to a strong ground game and a solid GOP ticket.

“It was a red wave in Warren County,” said former Warren County GOP Chairman Mike Grasso on Wednesday. “I think the fact that we had such great candidates up and down the line, everybody had somebody they liked and it helped everybody.”

Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, won with nearly 64% of the vote to 35% for Cobb, according to unofficial returns of votes cast at the machine either early or on Election Day.

Grasso said Stefanik raised her profile during the impeachment hearings for President Donald Trump, who carried the county with 61% of the vote. Stefanik also brought funding for Glens Falls Hospital during the COVID-19 crisis and relief for farmers.

“I think many more people were enthusiastic about voting for her,” he said.

Grasso was predicting that Stefanik would win with 56 or 57% of the vote. Grasso said the strength of her candidacy had effects down ballot with people voting a straight Republican ticket.

Assemblyman Dan Stec handily won his 45th Senate District race with 68% of the vote over Clinton County Treasurer Kimberly Davis with 32%. Simpson won the Assembly seat that Stec is vacating with 59%. Glens Falls 3rd Ward Supervisor Claudia Braymer had 39.5% and former Thurman Supervisor Evelyn Wood had 1.3%.

Stefanik’s coattails carried down to the Warren County Court judge race with Rob Smith winning and Tim McNulty winning Ward 4 in Queensbury.

Stefanik won by a wider margin of victory than in 2018. In that race, she had 56% of the vote compared with 42.4% for Cobb and 1.5% for Green Party candidate Lynn Kahn.

Democrat credits Stefanik’s organization

Warren County Democratic Chairwoman Lynn Boecher said she believes that Stefanik had a strong organization.

“I think she was instrumental in pulling her entire ticket (through),” she said.

Boecher said that Stefanik had more events and campaigned with the whole ticket. However, the Democrats stayed away from gatherings and wore masks and respected social distancing, she said.

Stefanik held an election night rally in a heated tent outdoors at The Queensbury Hotel in Glens Falls.

“I was frankly most disheartened by the fact that she had the 100 people last night in our community that’s worked so hard to keep our (COVID) numbers in check,” she said.

Boecher said Cobb could have been more visible in this part of the district. She is very much a people person, but because of the pandemic, she was limited in her ability to connect with voters and draw a contrast with Stefanik.

“I think it was an uphill battle. Our part of the district is very different than the other parts of the district,” Boecher said. “Her refusal to find a compromise to debate in this area, I think probably did not help her.”

Cobb declined to participate in a TV debate organized by Spectrum News in Albany.

“Elise really dominated the market here,” Boecher added.

Boecher said another issue was that the upstate Democrats tend to get lumped together with their more liberal downstate counterparts. The candidates on the Democratic ticket did not support the bail reform measures, but were branded as far-left socialists, she said.

Boecher said she is proud of the Democratic ticket of intelligent, well-qualified women, which also included Queensbury Town Board member Amanda Magee and Glens Falls City Court Judge Nikki Moreschi.

“They had the grit, the tenacity and the willingness for service, and I am hopeful that they will stay involved,” she said.

She wished Stefanik well.

“I hope that Congresswoman Stefanik will work across the aisle and find solutions for the North Country,” she said.

Stefanik reflects

After her victory speech, Stefanik reflected on her win, which she said was a result of support from not just Republicans, but Democrats and independents as well.

“Their voices matter — more than the funds from Hollywood, more than the smears that I’ve faced during the course of impeachment,” she said, referring to the flood of money that came into the race with the impeachment hearings and the social media comments calling her “Trashy Stefanik.”

Stefanik said it was a tough race.

“This was essentially a four-year campaign since it was a rematch. So, four years of running, but the people have spoken and I am truly honored to earn the support of the people in this district,” she said.

She said her support of President Trump was also a factor as the district supports the president.

“I think it is an asset and strength to be able to work with the president to deliver results to this region — whether it’s strengthening Fort Drum or whether it’s the support I’ve delivered to hospitals,” she said.

Stefanik said she is looking forward to getting back to work to help the economy recover from COVID-19, including supporting small businesses through an additional Paycheck Protection Program and funding to make sure that schools can safely educate students.

Cobb concedes, thanks supporters

Cobb conceded after midnight, thanking her supporters, family and volunteers. She noted that her campaign had raised over $5.7 million and recruited over 3,000 volunteers and 130 interns.

“Those volunteers and my amazing field team made over 5 million calls to voters, wrote 40,000 postcards and letters, and sent over 1 million texts, securing unprecedented support from across the country together,” she said. “Friends, this is unprecedented, and work that will help Democrats up and down the ballot for decades to come.”

“This campaign proved to Washington insiders that rural America and the North Country isn’t just a place worth romanticizing. It isn’t just a purple dot on an electoral map. It’s not an election year bellwether. It’s not a place for cheap political language and a photo op. It’s a place worth fighting for; it’s a place of amazing strength and resolve. It’s a place worth loving, and it’s a place to call home,” Cobb said.

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