Martz pivots to take on Little for Senate seat

NY-21st Congressional District campaign roundup

(Martz photo provided, Little photo by the Enterprise)

Fresh off her fourth-place finish in last week’s NY-21 Democratic primary, Emily Martz is looking to take on a new political challenge — knocking off state Sen. Elizabeth Little.

Martz confirmed in a brief email Monday that she is circulating petitions to challenge the eight-term incumbent, who was first elected to the 45th Senate District in 2002 after serving seven years in the Assembly. Little’s district stretches from up to the Canadian border and includes Martz’s hometown of Saranac Lake. Little confirmed in May that she is seeking re-election after rumors were flying that she would join Kathy Marchione, R-Halfmoon, who is not running again for another term.

Little did not face a Democratic Party challenger in 2016 but had a Green Party candidate run for the seat.

Martz is running up against the clock because petitions to run in state and local elections are due July 12 and she needs to obtain a thousand signatures from registered Democrats. She said she would have more time to talk about her bid after that process is complete.

Martz was one of five candidates vying in the June 26 primary to try to unseat U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Willsboro, who is seeking her third term in November.

(Cobb photo by Watertown Daily Times, Stefanik photo by Post-Star)

Tedra Cobb of Canton captured the Democratic nomination with 56 percent of the vote.

“Taxin’ Tedra” moniker origin unknown

It did not take long for the negative campaigning to start. On Tuesday night, the Stefanik campaign had already sent out a news release criticizing Cobb, saying that she “emerges from a weak, divisive Democratic primary as the out of touch, liberal, hyper-partisan, tax-and-spend candidate of the general election.”

On Wednesday, Stefanik’s campaign slapped the nickname of “Taxin’ Tedra” on Cobb and released a list of her votes to increase taxes when she served two terms as a St. Lawrence County legislator.

Stefanik declined to answer a question Friday about whether she came up with the nickname herself or whether it was somebody at her campaign or the Republican National Committee.

Stefanik only would say that: “she voted for tax increases and it’s sticking.”

Stefanik said taxes are a large issue.

“I had a family from Washington County in my office this past week, and their number one issue was taxes and the challenges they face in New York state in terms of the tax burden,” she said.

“My opponent has a record and is out of touch with the vast majority of voters in this district,” she added.

Stefanik voted against the federal tax cut bill because of the cap on the ability to deduct state and local taxes. She considers removal of that deduction double taxation.

Stefanik said the biggest challenge is relief from mandates coming from the state onto the county.

State of the Democratic Party

When asked to weigh in on last week’s shocking upset by of 10-term Queens Democrat Joe Crowley by 28-year-old political newcomer Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Stefanik said it was a sign that the Democratic Party is shifting further and further to the left. She likened it to the defeat of then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in 2014 by Tea Party Republican Dave Brat.

“She ran hard, and that’s what elections are about. You have to go out there and turn your voters out,” she said.

If Ocasio-Cortez is elected, and that is likely, as it is a heavily Democratic district, Stefanik would be dethroned as the youngest woman elected to Congress. Stefanik said she is OK with relinquishing that title to Ocasio-Cortez, who has come out in favor of abolishing the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agency and advocating for Medicare for all.

“Even though I disagree with her policy positions, I think it is good for the country to have more women in Congress. It is good for the country to have more younger voices,” she said.

Supreme Court battle

Although, as a member of the House, Stefanik will not be voting on President Donald Trump’s nominee to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court, she does not believe abortion rights would be threatened, regardless of who gets on the bench.

“I believe that precedent is important for the Supreme Court. Roe v. Wade is settled law. I am pro-life in terms of legislation that passes through the House, but I do think the Supreme Court has settled that issue,” she said.

Stefanik pointed out that Chief Justice John Roberts testified during his confirmation hearings in 2005 that he believes Roe v. Wade is settled law.

Stefanik has St. Lawrence support

Stefanik on Monday also touted her strength in Cobb’s backyard. The congresswoman released a statement saying she has endorsements from more than 70 St. Lawrence County leaders, including some Democrats such as Fowler Town Supervisor Michael Cappellino.

“For delivering on her promises to work towards securing our borders and to defend the Second Amendment, I proudly support Elise Stefanik for re-election,” he said in a news release.